The culture of cultural studies : accommodating the latecomer

Sudar, Vlastimir (2016) The culture of cultural studies : accommodating the latecomer. Spark : UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal, 1(2), pp. 70-78. ISSN (print) 2397-6594


The research for this project took place in an educational environment, at the University of the Arts London. The main research questions were: why do art students frequently experience resistance to Cultural and Historical Studies modules; why do they perceive such modules as alien to their studio practice; and why do they see the subject as a whole as peripheral or even irrelevant to their core studio programme? Motivation for this research arose from analysing student feedback, in which such thoughts were frequently expressed, as well as through the researcher’s first-hand experience of teaching Cultural and Historical Studies in an academic environment. The aim was to look in particular at those courses, which have Cultural (or Contextual and/or Critical) and Historical Studies as a separate subject, rather than courses in which it is integrated in their core programme. Starting with an examination of the subject’s history (following the Coldstream report), this pedagogic research re-assessed the position of the subject in current Art and Design education, leading to an identification of strategies that might improve the status of Cultural and Historical Studies as a component of Arts study programmes. The research took place in 2014 and 2015 on the BA Fashion Photography course at the London College of Fashion, through an ethnographic analysis of those who study and those teaching the course, complemented by a qualitative and discourse analysis. The conclusion presents two proposals intended to ensure that the subject is identified as integral to studio practice, thereby making it key to the studies of art and design. The proposals are based on the ‘theory of semblance’, which would require the delivery of Cultural Studies in environments and in a manner similar to that of studio practice, and distinct from traditional and current teaching of the subject. The process and findings are described in detail in an article in a pedagogic journal.

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