Cultural Studies: Starting Points

Gaining a sense of the field

Listed below are some books, articles, videos, journals, and websites intended to serve as starting points for students entering the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program. All of these items map the field of cultural studies even as they participate in debates concerning its transformation. Any one or two of them will provide a sense of the field and allow for sampling among its practices and contestations.

Library Resources

All of these materials can be found through the University of Washington Library catalogue. Registered students with a UW NetID can borrow books and access articles through the campus e-reserves under “Cultural Studies: Starting Points.” Incoming students who have not yet registered can access these materials by coming to the UW Bothell Library. For more information, contact the cultural studies subject librarian. The UW Bothell Library also contains a gateway page containing resources in cultural studies.


These four books provide useful overviews of cultural studies today. Barker is a lengthy account of major thinkers in the field. During is an anthology of significant articles. Johnson et al is a discussion of cultural studies research practice. Sadar and Van Loon is a brief graphic introduction.

  • Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. London: Sage, 2008.
  • During, Simon. The Cultural Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Johnson, Richard et al. The Practice of Cultural Studies. London: Sage, 2004.
  • Sadar, Ziauddin and Van Loon, Borin. Introducing Cultural Studies. Cambridge: Icon Books, 2004.


These six articles offer quick snapshots of cultural studies and some of the debates that animate it as a field.

  • Ang, Ien. “Who Needs Cultural Research?”, in Leistyna, P. (ed.), Cultural Studies: From Theory to Action. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005: 477-483.
  • Massey, Doreen. “Traveling Thoughts”, in Gilroy, P., Grossberg, L., and McRobbie, A. (eds.), Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall. New York: Verso, 2000: 225-232.
  • Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Grossberg, L. and Nelson C. (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988: 271-313.
  • Grossberg, Lawrence. “Cultural Studies, Modern Logics, and Theories of Globalization”, in McRobbie, A. (ed.) Back to “Reality”: The Social Experience of Cultural Studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997: 7-35.
  • Williams, Raymond. “The Uses of Cultural Theory”, in Williams, R., The Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists. London: Verso, 2007: 163-176.
  • Wright, Handel. “Dare We De-Center Birmingham? Troubling the ‘Origin’ and Trajectories of Cultural Studies.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 1(1): 33-56.


These two sets of videos highlight key concepts in cultural studies. The first is a four-part BBC series from 1972. The second is a series of three lectures by Stuart Hall, one of the central figures in British cultural studies.

  • Berger, John, Ways of Seeing
  • Hall, Stuart
    • The Origins of Cultural Studies. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2006. Lecture transcript
    • Hall, Stuart, Race, the Floating Signifier. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2002. Lecture transcript
    • Hall, Stuart, Representation & the Media. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2002. Lecture transcript


These six journals publish articles, essays, and reviews related to ongoing research conversations in cultural studies. Sampling from their tables-of-contents provides a sense of emergent work in the field.