Confronting Theory (Book)

The Psychology of Cultural Studies


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
‘Post-Humanities’ and Education
No Laughing Matter
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