Fewer figures have been as prolific and influential in the intellectual project of American cultural studies than my doctoral advisor Lawrence Grossberg. And I've been fortunate enough not only to learn from him but also to work and write alongside him for several years—a brief blip in his decades-spanning career (one that cuts across several generations of similarly fortunate students), but one I will forever treasure.
So I was beyond delighted when incoming editor of the journal Cultural Studies, Ted Striphas, asked me to submit a small tribute to Larry for a collection of pieces dedicated to his work. I chose to write about cultural studies' relationship to "the present":
Cultural studies professed "radical contextualism" imbues the project with a particular orientation toward "the present," a consideration of "the current moment" as a configuration of forces shaping possibilities for politically engaged practice and affording concrete potentials for telling better stories. This essay elaborates these claims by way of tribute to Lawrence Grossberg. It is neither retrospective nor prospective. Instead—and in a manner more befitting a figure who continues to champion the political-intellectual practice of cultural studies here and now, in the present—this essay reflects on the author's experiences learning with and from Grossberg in order to explore the the temporality of the cultural studies project.
The section—featuring work from some of my favorite classmates, mentors, and academic fellow-travelers—contains (in running order):
- Wood: "On 'telling better stories'"
- Spielman: "The feeling of the incommensurable"
- Davis: "Failure is always an option"
- Spiegel: "Unknown outcomes, no guarantees"
- Behrenshausen: "Cultural studies in the present tense"
- Crofts Wiley & Wise: "Guattari, Deleuze, and Cultural Studies"
At the moment, all the pieces are accessible without login credentials or an institutional subscription to the journal. As Taylor & Francis' largess is never guaranteed, and its extent or duration never predictable, I recommend downloading all the pieces as soon as possible.
This is shaping up to be the The Year of Grossberg, as the Cultural Studies Association has announced a workshop on Larry's intellectual legacy (spearheaded by even more of my favorite people) at its 2019 conference in New Orleans. I can think of no better spirit to carry us through the next twelve months.