What is Cultural Studies?  

Cultural Studies is an emphatically interdisciplinary area of inquiry that draws from the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. It asks practitioners to understand and contend with the paths, places, and people they come from, and to position themselves towards just and imaginative futures. 

Cultural Studies researchers investigate cultural processes and objects, technologies, economic and social relations, institutions and identities. The methods and modes of presentation of any given Cultural Studies project are developed to match its goals and to reach the audiences who need to hear it. Thus Cultural Studies scholars produce work in a variety of media and modes, from the monograph thesis to visual art projects, musical and theatrical productions, and community-engaged collaborations.

Cultural Studies has several distinct but intersecting lineages: from Media & Communication Studies, social justice activism, continental theory, the arts, and anticolonial scholarship, to name a few. 

To give you a sense of what it means at Queen’s, here is a list of some books taught in our courses in 2021-22:

  • Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (2017)
  • Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (1966/1970)
  • Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks (1992 [1929-1935])
  • Jennifer Nash, Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality (2019)
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice (2018)
  • Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus (2014)
  • Michel Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995)
  • Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World (2017)
  • Jackie Wang, Carceral Capitalism (2018)