Confronting Theory (Book)

The Psychology of Cultural Studies

Confronting Theory presents a critique of what has come to be known as theory in cross-disciplinary humanities education. Rather than dismissing theory writing as pretentious and abstract, Confronting Theory examines its principal concepts from the perspective of academic psychology and shows that although many of these analyses sound like revolutionary psychological theory, few, if any, have empirical implications that students can evaluate. By considering the educational implications of cultural theory, Confronting Theory will empower students with arguments, not just opinions, about the increasingly idealist and irrelevant anti-realist curricula they confront in their humanities education in today’s universities.

Edition

Confronting Theory presents a methodological (philosophical) and educational evaluation and critique of what has come to be known as Theory (‘with a capital-T’) in cross-disciplinary humanities education. Rather than merely dismissing Theory writing as risibly pretentious and abstract, Confronting Theory examines its principal concepts from the perspective of academic psychology and shows that, although ‘Theory that only dogs can hear’ may sound like revolutionary psychological analysis it is frequently incoherent and/or has few, if any, empirical implications that students can evaluate.

Philip Bell has published several books on television and media culture and more than sixty research monographs, journal articles, and book chapters on the representation of social issues in the media, globalization, and genres of film and television.

Chapter One
Cultural Studies and Capital-T Theory
The Problem of ‘Theory’
Cultural Studies and/as Psychology
Texts and Science 
Theory's Challenge 
 
Chapter Two
What is Theory About?
Immaterial Foundations
After the ‘Sokal Hoax’
Theory is Not Metaphor
 
Chapter Three
Different Things
Language Problems
Reductionism and ‘Essentialism’
Relations and Things
Becoming Theoretical
Real Differences: ‘Race’ and Identity
Making Sense of Difference
 
Chapter Four
Theory, People and ‘Subjects’
Psychology and the Emergence of Cultural Studies
The ‘Return to the Signifier’
Semiotic Subjects, or Persons?
Decentring Psychology
Equivocating: Anti-‘Essentialism’
Subjects Need Biology
 
Chapter Five
‘Post-Human’ Theory and Cultural Studies
The Printing Press, Digital Media and Humanism
Enlightenment Humanism
Escaping the Human?
Problems of Coherence
 
Chapter Six
Affecting Ontologies
Affect as an Entity
The Trinity: Feeling, Emotion, Affect
Becoming Ontological – The Student’s Problem
Affect extraordinaire: Horse Sense?
 
Chapter Seven
Real experience, Un-real Science
Moving Science: The Body in Theory
Vital Phenomenology
Neo- or Non-Psychology?
Realism as an Ethical Attitude
 
Chapter Eight
Theory and Education
Realism as a Default Position
When Students ‘do Theory’
Teaching Theory
Bluffing 
‘Post-Humanities’ and Education
No Laughing Matter
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