Theories of Cultural Studies

The Working Group on THEORIES OF CULTURAL STUDIES of the Cultural Studies Association invites submissions for the 16th Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association.  The Theories of Cultural Studies Working Group welcomes a wide range of proposals addressing the role and place of theory within cultural studies and the relationship between the field of cultural studies, theory, and social and political practice. What kinds of interventions can cultural studies practitioners make and what is the role of theory in orienting such interventions? Are our theories adequate for the task or are new theoretical turns and approaches called for? How do we theorize the current conjuncture? The conference takes place 200 years since the birth of Karl Marx, which is being marked by the conference’s host institution, Carnegie Mellon Humanities Center, with a series of pre-conference events on the theme of ‘Marx at 200.’ This closely follows the centennial of the Russian Revolution. The conference takes place in the United States during extraordinary political times, with an administration (a President) that has openly supported racist and fascist movements, which is extending and deepening the brutality of the US state’s attack on immigrants, carrying out policies that will exacerbate the already extreme levels of economic inequality, and which is engaging in military adventures and threats that are taking the world to the brink of a third world war. These developments occur in the global context of the unfolding crisis of global capitalism, the breakup of the forms and institutions of bourgeois rule that were created after World War Two, and the rise of right-wing and nationalist movements in many countries, from the role of the far-right in the UK’s Brexit referendum to the electoral rise of the Alternative for Germany, among other examples. The parties of ‘the Left’ have not been able to capitalize on mass discontent, which is being channeled in reactionary directions. In this context, the conference’s main Call for Papers asks us to, “wonder, as we look back at the legacy of what Stuart Hall called the First New Left, if it is time for something like a new socialist project?”

The Theory Working Group will sponsor AT LEAST TWO panels/sessions on the theories of cultural studies. For one of these panels we are issuing an open call within the broad theme of “Interventions.” For the other panel, we invite papers specifically on the topic “Cultural Studies: Revisits to Marxism and Prospects for Progressivism.”

For any questions, please contact the Co-Chairs of the Working Group on the Theories Cultural Studies:

Jaafar Aksikas at AND;

Mimi Yang at ; and

Charles Thorpe at




As a field of study, Cultural Studies has always been committed to the necessity of theory and theoretical work. It is not committed to theory for theory's sake; it is rather interested in how theory and theoretical work can be deployed to better understand and transform specific historical conjunctures, contexts, and formations. This Working Group provides a forum where a multiplicity of theories and theoretical studies are explored, examined, and elaborated and where the places, uses, merits, and limits of specific theories in the field are interrogated and engaged.

Join this working group