Cultural Studies in the Future Tense

Cultural Studies in the Future Tense

Book Pages: 372 Illustrations: 2 figures Published: November 2010

Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

Lawrence Grossberg is one of the leading figures in cultural studies internationally. In Cultural Studies in the Future Tense, he offers a powerful critique of the present state of cultural studies and, more broadly, of the intellectual left, especially in the Anglo-American academy. He develops a vision for the future of cultural studies as conjunctural analysis, a radically contingent and contextual study of the articulations of lived, discursive, and material contexts. Proposing a compelling analysis of the contemporary political problem space as a struggle over modernity, he suggests the possibility of multiple ways of being modern as an analytic and imaginative frame. He elaborates an ontology of the modern as the potentialities of multiple configurations of temporalities and spatialities, differences, territorialities, and powers, and argues that euro-modernity is a specific geohistorical realization of this complex diagram. Challenging the euro-modern fragmentation of the social formation, he discusses the rigorous conceptual and empirical work that cultural studies must do—including rethinking fundamental concepts such as economy, culture, and politics as well as modernity—to reinvent itself as an effective political intellectual project. This book offers a vision of a contemporary cultural studies that embraces complexity, rigorous interdisciplinary practice and experimental collaborations in an effort to better explain the present in the service of the imagination of other futures and the struggles for social transformation.


“. . . a valuable addition to a series of metatextual meditations on our field. Cultural Studies in the Future Tense looks at politics, economics, and modernity. It provides a well-written, fascinating, and unlikely alchemy of after-dinner speaker and careful exegete, in the service of important work.” — Toby Miller, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies

“. . . [O]ver the course of the book and along the way, ostensibly, to describing the ‘problem-space’ of the contemporary conjuncture Grossberg
effects nothing less than a thorough consolidation and ground clearing of the central problems of political and social theory that challenge nearly every
academic involved in considering, from whatever aspect and from whatever field or disposition, the ‘almost epochal “feeling” to the contemporary dislocations and struggles’ (p. 67) confronting the world today.” — William C. Trapani, Journal of Communication

“. . . the book has the appealing passion of a specialist seeking to ‘reconfigure’ what his specialty is and means. . . . Recommended.” — A. O. Edmonds, Choice

“I would strongly recommend Grossberg’s book to anyone seeking an introduction to and future hypotheses about the field of cultural studies.” — Marco Ceccarelli, Limina

“Larry Grossberg's Cultural Studies in the Future Tense is an important reminder and source of renewal for those of us committed to the political intellectual project of cultural studies who share his ‘continuing belief that intellectual work matters, that it is a vital component of the struggle to change the world and to make it more humane and just, and that cultural studies, as a particular project, a particular sort of intellectual practice, has something valuable to contribute’ (5-6).” — Ann Hetzel Gunkel, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies

“The ‘thriller’ is usually assumed to be a popular genre, its visceral energies radically at odds with the difficult concepts of scholarship. Cultural Studies in the Future Tense challenges any such separation. For all its theoretical intricacies this book is nonetheless a true thriller. It is an academic page-turner in the best sense, taking its reader on a liberating and fast-paced journey through received wisdom, and across the trajectories of Grossberg’s thought.” — Matt Hills, Culture Machine

“There is no one in cultural studies any better at reading, comprehensively, the variegated movements of the present or at anticipating the tenses of the future.” — Gregory J. Seigworth, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies

“This book is an important contribution to a series of conversations—about cultural studies, about the politics of the present, and about how the two are connected and might be better connected. . . . I find the book inspiring because of its urgent insistence on the value of thinking together about the present (and cultural studies as a way of naming that project). I am also inspired because the book sets out a compelling account of how thinking about the present might be approached. . . . Larry Grossberg will continue to be one of the ‘voices in my head’ that I hear, listen to, and dispute with when I am trying to think.” — John Clarke, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies in the Future Tense is an immensely enjoyable book to read, fizzing with ideas and of real relevance to the current situation. It is also a brave book: defining cultural studies is always going to be a difficult task, even for one of its founders. Yet Lawrence Grossberg does not shrink from the task, and the political emphasis he places on the future and imagination seems to me to be absolutely right. The Left needs to think as never before about what it is doing and why.” — Nigel Thrift, author of Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect

“Lawrence Grossberg was one of the pioneers of cultural studies in the United States. Since then, he has not only meticulously and with rare critical insight tracked its international development but made several original contributions to it in his own distinctive voice. Forty years after the foundation of the Centre for Cultural Studies in the U.K., people constantly ask, ‘Cultural studies: where is it going?’ Grossberg’s latest book is one of the most important, insightful, cogent, wide-ranging, and persuasive attempts to offer an answer to that question. It is required reading for anyone interested not only in the future of cultural studies but in contemporary culture and its political meanings. Cultural Studies in the Future Tense is not to be missed.” — Stuart Hall

“Lawrence Grossberg’s book does something much more useful than giving us an introduction to cultural studies. It demonstrates what cultural studies can do, giving a broadly interdisciplinary and politically engaged analysis of our contemporary conjuncture. This is an excellent model for future work in the field.” — Michael Hardt, co-author of Commonwealth

“Lawrence Grossberg, the author of numerous profound and highly influential studies, has produced his magnum opus. Going through the manuscript, I realized with growing awe and enthusiasm that in one book we have been offered by far the most comprehensive and best-written history of cultural studies from its inception to its most recent accomplishments and challenges, as well as a program that deserves to be called a definitive introduction to all future studies of culture. This book is an obligatory and invaluable read for the established professionals of the area as much as for its aspiring newcomers; and given the clarity of the narrative, also for those many people who have had thus far only a vague notion of what cultural studies is about, yet are eager to know how the setting in which they are destined to live is shaped and how they could use such knowledge to shape their lives in it.” — Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lawrence Grossberg is the Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies, and Adjunct Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Anthropology, and Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of many books, including Caught in the Crossfire: Kids, Politics, and America’s Future, Bringing it all Back Home: Essays on Cultural Studies, and Dancing in Spite of Myself: Essays on Popular Culture (the last two both also published by Duke University Press). He is a co-editor of collections including About Raymond Williams, New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Without Guarantees: Essays in Honor of Stuart Hall, Cultural Studies, and Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. He is a co-editor of the journal Cultural Studies.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Thanks xi

Introduction. We All Want to Change the World 1

1. The Heart of Cultural Studies 7

2. Constructing the Conjuncture: Struggling over Modernity 57

3. Considering Value: Rescuing Economics from Economists 101

4. Contextualizing Culture: Mediation, Signification, and Significance 169

5. Complicating Power: The "And" of Politics, and . . . 227

6. In Search of Modernities 259

Notes 295

Bibliography 329

Index 351
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc Maldives & S. Asia, incl. Myanmar

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4830-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4844-3
Publicity material