Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies An overview of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies or CCCS , and an answer to Richard Johnson's question, "What is cultural studies anyway?"

The Founders of Cultural Studies vis-à-vis the CCCS

Hoggart bucked antidemocratic and elitist forces inside and outside the academy in order to reclaim culture for the common people.

Margaret Thatcher, Also known as the "Iron Lady," was Prime Minister of England and a member of the Conservative Party, was in office from 1979-1990 (11 years).

Britain During the Years of the CCCS

By the end of the 20th century--aristocracy, middle class and working class--boundaries became blurred. Attitudes played a bigger part in defining social groups rather than income. Societal changes were brought about by many events, but some of the key changes were in education, multiculturalism, women's rights, and the consumer market.

Education: After 1945, all children got a good education and by the 1960s children had full-time education, free milk and more leisure time. In the 1960s, the number of students going to university doubled.

Multiculturalism: The arrival of immigrants from places such as the West Indies and south Asia brought about the idea of a multicultural Britain. The 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott brought attention to racial discrimination. Some felt that multiculturalism did not work and that it created a more segregated society. Others believed it was an important aspect of modern Britain, therefore the Race Relations Act and subsequent laws were created.

Women's Rights: Women were finally given equal rights in law in 1975 with the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act, but women remained under-represented in the highest paid jobs such as lawyers and company directors. The Sex Discrimination Act protected men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status. Employment training on sexual harassment was a result of this act.

Industry: At the beginning of the 20th century Britain’s main industries were coal, iron/steel, engineering and textiles. These declined and Britain moved into more specialized manufacturing, such as aerospace, as well as service industries such as finance and tourism. This changed the kinds of jobs available and the types of skills needed to do them.

Consumerism: In 1994 the law changed to allow shops to open seven days a week and the idea of shopping as a leisure activity for everyone became even more popular.



Digital media and multimodality, or the way people use technology and/or interact online


The emergence of the "public turn" in composition and writing studies


New attention to globalization, transnational perspectives, and the pluralization of English

"Think of compositions as more than just words composed on a page—think multimodal—think visual, audio, the combination of any or all of them on a site or blog (vernacular text), and on multiple media platforms too."
Gunther Kress

Kress created theories of multimodality based on social semiotics.

Rhetoric and composition studies help students “to become better writers and readers as citizens, workers, and critics of their cultures.”
James A. Berlin (7 January 1942 – 2 February 1994)

Berlin was a composition studies theorist known for his scholarship on the history of rhetoric and composition.

"Writing instruction ties to the democratization of higher education."

- John Trimbur

Contemporary composition started as part of a larger struggle through land grant universities, the GI bill, and open admissions, to represent students and adult learners stigmatized as uneducable because of cognitive deficiencies, the culture of poverty, or the restricted codes of oral culture.
“Spectators who transform the experience of watching television into a rich and complex participatory culture.”
Henry Jenkins (1992) Textual Poachers

Jenkins challenged the concept of vidiots instead claiming media fans are engaged in acts of creation and activism…for Jenkins,TV consumption was a productive activity, one in which viewers study, rewrite, and advocate for programming.

“Convergence culture”—“ where the power of the media producer and the and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways.”
"One can use code as a mechanism for social activism—to support or dissuade political ideologies."
Hacktivism 101: Humanities professor, Ricardo Dominguez encouraged a virtual sit-in where hackers disrupted access to targeted sites at UCSD.
"'Public turn' is an interest in public rhetoric, community engagement, and communication focused on public debate and action."

- Paula Mathieu (2005)

“Public turn” enters cultural composition studies through:


historical and contemporary studies of the literacy practices of marginalized or previously ignored groups.


a demand for emphasis on school-community partnerships and service learning projects connected to writing programs.


a growing body of literature that engages with activist rhetoric and public sphere theory.

"Postcolonialism is not so much about a historical period as it is a re-reading of “colonization as part of an essentially transnational and transcultural ‘global’ process” in order to produce a “decentered, diasporic or ‘global’ rewriting of earlier nation-centered imperial grand narratives.”

- Stuart Hall

"Transnational is a better characterization versus the circulation of hybrid identities throughout the “black Atlantic” and the static First World-Third World, core-periphery binary (black and white) perspective."

- Paul Gilroy

In the early 2000’s, terms like world "Englishes," linguistic imperialism, and English hybridization, led to scholars reexamining the status of language in college composition.
“The myth of linguistic homogeneity.”

- Paul Kei Matsuda

Notions of a nation-state or citizen-subject don’t account for global forces shaping individuals or literate practices.

There’s more to the immigrant language story than just the border crossing.

Since the 1980s cultural studies has been a muse for turning pop culture and media into “texts” which originate as:


the student as "critic."


the student as “participant-observer” or as engaging in “field work.”


the student as a “producer of culture.”

The culture and composition movement has shifted considerably since its beginning.

Its emphasis takes students to spaces outside the classroom, outside themselves and into the world, synthesizing both local and transnational experiences, especially those that students have lived.

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