The Comps List

Building this list was one of the most daunting and rewarding experiences of the PhD thus far. It required me to attempt to define the field I was just entering (a new field for me- “cultural studies,” from a fairly strict lit background) and anticipate the results of almost a year of reading before I had read a single thing. I quickly realized that to accomplish such a task I would have to accept that the task itself is completely absurd. A “comprehensive” reading list? Of “cultural studies?” Ridiculous.

Ridiculous, yes, but not useless. Even if many of the decisions I made with regards to what to put in and what to leave out were fairly arbitrary, the process itself (and I imagine this is largely the point) was microcosmically representative of the kinds of things enacted in “the academy” every day: this is how fields are constructed and canons are built. (Ah, yes. “Canon.” I said it. How could I not? The comprehensive exam, no matter how hard it tries to be otherwise, and no matter how intensely various disciplines react against it, is essentially an act of canon-building.)

Below you will find the current iteration (it is perpetually changing) of my comps list, organized in mini-units to render it more manageable. Some of the units are thematic, some are not. Some of the groupings may seem obvious, others will appear forced, or even entirely groundless and bizarre. I organized the list this way more for convenience than anything else, though I nonetheless acknowledge that the order in which I read these works and the works against which I read them will inevitably alter my understanding of them. It can’t be helped. (Oh, and some titles, page counts, etc. might be slightly off. Additionally, for a few of the works, I have yet to identify a specific excerpt.)

The goal is to produce a blog entry following each unit- that is, if I feel there is material enough to blog about. Perhaps some units will read fairly straightforwardly and my thoughts will be minimal. Others might surprise me, and I might therefore feel impelled to produce several entries on the material. As I mentioned before, this is a work in progress, and the rules could – and likely will – change as I go.

This list corresponds to a reading schedule which begins next week. In other words, my first comps-content blog is forthcoming. Until then…

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.1

Hoggart, Richard. “Unbending the Springs of Action: Indifferentism: ‘Personalisation’ and ‘Fragmentation.’” Uses of Literacy. 147-56. (10pp)

Williams, Raymond. “The Analysis of Culture” (14pp)

Hall, Stuart. “The Emergence of Cultural Studies and the Crisis of the Humanities” (13pp)

—. “Encoding/Decoding” (11pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.2

Marcuse, Herbert. “The Affirmative Character of Culture” (46pp)

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (30pp)

Adorno, Theodor. “The Culture Industry Reconsidered” (8pp)

—. “On Popular Music” (14pp)

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (24pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.3

de Saussure, Ferdinand. “General Principles: Chapter I – III.” Course in General Linguisitcs. 65-98. (34pp)

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. “The Structural Study of Myth.” Structural Anthropology. 213-9. (6pp)

Barthes, Roland. “Myth Today.” Mythologies. 109-59. (51pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.4

Marx, Karl. “The Commodity.” Chapter 1 of Capital (Vol. 1). 125-77. (53pp)

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge (selections) (~25pp)

—. The History of Sexuality (selections) (~25pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.5

Gramsci, Antonio. “Hegemony, Relations of Force, Historical Bloc.” An Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings, 1916-1935. 189-221. (33pp)

Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” (52pp)

Debord, Guy. “The Culmination of Separation,” “The Commodity as Spectacle.” Society of the Spectacle. 6-25. (20pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.6

Heidegger, Martin. “The Question Concerning Technology.” The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays. 3-35. (33pp)

McLuhan, Marshall. “Introduction,” “The Medium is the Message.” Understanding Media. 3-21. (19pp)

—. “Prologue,” “The Gutenberg Galaxy Reconfigured, or the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualist Society.” The Gutenberg Galaxy. 1-10, 265-80. (26pp)

Williams, Raymond. “The Technology and the Society.” Television: Technology and Cultural Form. 9-31. (23pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.7

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. “The Field: Knowledge in Computerized Societies,” “The Problem: Legitimation,” “The Method: Language Games,” “Appendix: Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. 3-10, 71-84. (22pp)

Jameson, Fredric. “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998. 1-20. (20pp)

—. “Theories of the Postmodern,” “Reading and the Division of Labor.” Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. 55-66, 131-53. (35pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.8

Bourdieu, Pierre. “Distinction and the Aristocracy of Culture” (~50pp)

Butler, Judith. “Merely Cultural.” New Left Review 227 (1998): 33-44. (12pp)

Theoretical Foundations – Unit 1.9

Lukàcs, Georg. “From The Theory of the Novel.” Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Ed. Vassiliki Kolocotroni, Jane Goldman and Olga Taxidou. 225-9. (5pp)

Austin, J. L. “Lecture VI.” How to Do Things with Words. 67-82. (16pp)

Derrida, Jacques. “The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing,” “Linguistics and Grammatology.” Of Grammatology. 6-73. (68pp)

Topic Paper – Unit 2.1

Castells, Manuel. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture: Volume II, The Power of Identity (selections) (~25pp)

—. “The Net and the Self: Working Notes for a Critical Theory of the Informational Society.” Critique of Anthropology 16.1 (1996): 9-37. (29pp)

—. “Opening: The Network is the Message,” “The Digital Divide in a Global Perspective,” “Conclusion: The Challenges of a Network Society.” The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. 1-8, 247-82. (44pp)

Hayles, Katherine. “Contexts for Electronic Literature: The Body and The Machine,” “The Future of Literature: Print Novels and the Mark of the Digital.” Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. 87-130, 159-186. (72pp)

—. “Toward Embodied Virtuality,” “Conclusion: What Does It Mean to Be Posthuman?” How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. 1-24, 283-91. (33pp)

—. “Prologue: Computing Kin.” My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts. 1-11. (11pp)

Topic Paper – Unit 2.2

Bolter, Jay David. “Introduction: Writing in the Late Age of Print,” “Writing as Technology,” “Critical Theory in a New Writing Space,” “Writing Culture.” Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. 2nd ed. 1-26, 161-88, 203-13. (65pp)

Lévy, Pierre. Part II: Theoretical Issues (Chapters 6-9, 13). Cyberculture. 91-136, 165-80. (62pp)

Topic Paper – Unit 2.3

Aarseth, Espen J. “The Cyborg Author: Problems of Automated Poetics,” “Ruling the Reader: The Politics of ‘Interaction.’” Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. 129-41, 162-77. (29pp)

Barlow, John Perry. “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” (3pp)

Boyd, Andrew. “Truth Is a Virus: Meme Warfare and the Billionaires for Bush (or Gore).” Cultural Resistance Reader. Ed. Stephen Duncombe. 369-78. (10pp)

Galloway, Alexander. Introduction. Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization. 3-27. (25pp)

Graham, Elaine L. “The end of the ‘human’?” Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture. 176-99. (24pp)

Jenkins, Henry. “Blog This!” Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. 178-81. (4pp)

—. “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar of Convergence’: A New Paradigm for Understanding Media Change.” Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. 1-24. (24pp)

McGann, Jerome. “Conclusion. Beginning Again and Again: ‘The Ivanhoe Game’” + Appendix. Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web. 209-48. (40pp)

Douglas, Yellowlees. “Introduction: The Book is Dead, Long Live the Books!” The End of Books—Or Books Without End? Reading Interactive Narratives. 1-10. (10pp)

Everyday Life and the Public Sphere – Unit 3.1

Habermas, Jurgen. “Introduction: Preliminary Demarcation of a Type of Bourgeois Public Sphere.” Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. 1-26. (26pp)

de Certeau, Michel. “A Common Place: Ordinary Language,” “Popular Cultures: Ordinary Language,” “The Scriptural Economy,” “Reading as Poaching.” The Practice of Everyday Life. 1-28, 131-53, 165-76. (63pp)

Lefebvre, Henri. “The Development of Marxist Thought,” “What Is Possible.” Critique of Everyday Life. 176-200, 228-52. (50pp)

Everyday Life and the Public Sphere – Unit 3.2

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. “Biopolitical Production,” “Postmodernization, or The Informatization of Production.” Empire. 22-41, 280-303. (44pp)

Bauman, Zygmunt. “Introduction: Bravely into the Hotbed of Uncertainties,” “Liquid Modern Life and its Fears.” Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. 1-26. (26pp)

Everyday Life and the Public Sphere – Unit 3.3

Foucault, Michel. “Panopticism.” Discipline and Punish. 195-228. (34pp)

Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control” (6pp)

Everyday Life and the Public Sphere – Unit 3.4

Chow, Rey. “Listening Otherwise, Music Miniaturized: A Different Type of Question about Revolution” (17pp)

Appadurai, Arjun. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” (22pp)

Visual and Media Culture – Unit 4.1

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing (selections) (~25pp)

Ang, Ien. “Dallas and the Ideology of Mass Culture.” Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. 86-116. (31pp)

Fiske, John and John Hartley. “The Functions of Television,” “The Modes of Television.” Reading Television. 49-63, 85-100. (30pp)

Manovich, Lev. “How Media Became New.” The Language of New Media. 21-6. (6pp)

Visual and Media Culture – Unit 4.2

Baudrillard, Jean. “The Precession of Simulacra.” Simulations. 1-79 (small pages). (~50pp)

Bukatman, Scott. “The Artificial Infinite.” Visual Display: Culture Beyond Appearance. Ed. Lynn Cooke and Peter Wollen. 254-89. (35pp)

Kellner, Douglas. “Mapping the Present from the Future: From Baudrillard to Cyberpunk.” Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity and Politics between the Modern and the Postmodern. 297-326. (30pp)

Visual and Media Culture – Unit 4.3

Spiegel, Lynn. Introduction. Welcome to the Dreamhouse. 1-23. (24pp)

Virilo, Paul. “The Vision Machine.” The Vision Machine. 59-77. (19pp)

Massumi, Brian. “On the Superiority of the Analog,” “The Brightness Confound.” Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. 133-43, 162-76. (26pp)

Visual and Media Culture – Unit 4.4

Hebdige, Dick. Chapter 8. Subculture. 113-27. (15pp)

McRobbie, Angela. “Clubs to Companies: Notes on the Decline of Political Culture in Speeded up Creative Worlds.” Cultural Studies 16.4 (2002): 516-31. (16pp)

Race, Gender and Sexuality – Unit 5.1

deLauretis, Theresa. “The Technology of Gender.” Technologies of Gender. 1-30. (30pp)

Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. 149-83. (35pp)

Grosz, Elizabeth. “Sexual Signatures: Feminism after the Death of the Author,” “Bodies-Cities.” Space, Time, and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies. 9-23, 103-110. (23pp)

Butler, Judith. “Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy,” “The End of Sexual Difference?.” Undoing Gender. 17-39, 174-203. (53pp)

Race, Gender and Sexuality – Unit 5.2

Mercer, Kobena. “Welcome to the Jungle: Identity and Diversity in Postmodern Politics.” Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Politics. 259-86. (28pp)

Mullen, Harryette. “Optic White: Blackness and the Production of Whiteness” (20pp)

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (~40pp)

Race, Gender and Sexuality – Unit 5.3

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Nationalisms and Sexualities” Tendencies. 143-53. (11pp)

Dyer, Richard. “Believing in Fairies: The Author and The Homosexual.” Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. 185-201. (17pp)

Mazzarella, Sharon. Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity (selections) (~25pp)

Race, Gender and Sexuality – Unit 5.4

Foster, Thomas. “The Souls of Cyberfolk: Performativity, Virtual Embodiment, and Racial Histories.” The Souls of Cyberfolk: Posthumanism as Vernacular Theory. 137-69. (33pp)

Jakubowicz, Andrew. “Ethnic Diversity, ‘Race,’ and the Cultural Political Economy of Cyberspace.” Democracy and New Media. Ed. Henry Jenkins and David Thorburn. 203-24. (22pp)

Morton, Donald. “Birth of the Cyberqueer.” Cybersexualities. Ed. Jenny Wolmark. 295-313. (19pp)

Authors and Readers – Unit 6.1

Benjamin, Walter. “The Author as Producer” (15pp)

—. “The Storyteller.” (18pp)

Wimsatt, W. K. and Monroe C. Beardsley: “The Intentional Fallacy” and “The Affective Fallacy” (25pp)

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author” (7pp)

Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” (26pp)

Miller, Nancy K. “Changing the Subject: Authorship, Writing and the Reader” (19pp)

Landow, George. “Reconfiguring the Author.” Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization. 125-43. (19pp)

Authors and Readers – Unit 6.2

Eco, Umberto. “Introduction: The Role of the Reader.” The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts. 3-47. (45pp)

Fish, Stanley. “Interpreting the Variorum” (21pp)

Miller, J. Hillis. “The Critic as Host” (28pp)

Fetterley, Judith. “Introduction: On the Politics of Literature.” The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. xi-xxvi. (16pp)

Authors and Readers – Unit 6.3

Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (8pp)

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own (selections) (~25pp)

Topic Paper – Unit 7.1

Gibson, William. Neuromancer

Sterling, Bruce. Islands in the Net

Cadigan, Pat. Synners

Stephenson, Neal. Cryptonomicon

Topic Paper – Unit 7.2

Joyce, Michael. afternoon, a story

Moulthrop, Stuart. Victory Garden

Malloy, Judy. its name was Penelope

Jackson, Shelley. Patchwork Girl

Topic Paper – Unit 7.3

Metropolis (Lang)

Blade Runner (Scott)

Tron (Lisberger)

Ghost in the Shell (Oshii)

The Matrix (Wachowskis)

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~ by pamelaingleton on 29 May 2010.

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