Of all the various types of critical theory, I identify most closely with cultural studies.

Some of My Favorite Books on Critical Theories

Some of My Favorite Articles on Critical Theories

On top of being about disco and downtown NYC art music, this article made me stop judging Deleuze & Guattari based on their fanboys and instead appreciate how assemblage theory can help us avoid adopting Great Men approaches to history. Lawrence also writes superbly, even when harnessing academic language. And he’s considerate enough to have put this in Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, an open access, peer-reviewed journal.

Jonathan Sterne writes, thinks, and speaks wonderfully. Check out his repository as well as his blog. You’ll find some other great stuff like “Keyword: Journal”, “Pedagogy of the Job Market”, and “Communication as Techné”, not to mention an entire page stuffed full of advice for those venturing into academe. Can you imagine a world where all scholars and thinkers were routinely this generous?

It’s unfortunate that this reading isn’t more widely accessible—although he does touch on a lot of similar topics in a few of the many articles he has on Academia.edu, which I feel vaguely dirty even linking to since it’s far from a substitute for an actual institutional repository.

Across this and some similar essays (“Wandering Audiences, Nomadic Critics,” “Cultural Studies and/in New Worlds,” “The Formations of Cultural Studies: An American in Birmingham,” “On the Political Responsibilities of Cultural Studies,” & “History, Politics, and Postmodernism: Stuart Hall and cultural studies”)1 Grossberg does a stellar job of showing how cultural studies has evolved from a group of scholars primarily from working class backgrounds interested in adult education & labor concerns to a more intentionally decolonial, feminist, and queer undertaking. He does a great job of explaining Stuart Hall, Angela McRobbie, and other Cultural Studies touchstones, as well as showing how the cultural studies approach that he advocates for focuses on a materialist study of the effects of practices and how they are articulated, an approach that is simultaneously both anti-essentialist and not relativistic, basing a claim’s truthfulness on its ability to give the thinker purchase on effects in the world.

  1. I also really like Grossberg’s “The Ideology of Communication: Post-Structuralism and the Limits of Communication,” which is on that non-IR site. It’s definitely not an introductory reading, but it’s a good one.