Monday, February 10, 2014

Stuart Hall, RIP

Two or three nights ago I dreamed I was in London to hear Stuart Hall give a talk. Unfortunately there were the usual oneiric shenanigans and I didn't get further than the lobby. A missed opportunity, I thought at the time. Too true. And now he is gone. But Hall is here in my lecture notes for my freshman media and culture course, and here again in the opening weeks of my grad class in qualitative methods, and here again in the turn of a question, in the wrestle with a theory, in a commitment to think us a bit further down the road, and in the commitment to do work that matters.

I remember sitting in a lecture hall at the University of Illinois, almost a quarter century ago now, listening to Hall give the talk that would become his essay, “Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies,” with its struggles with Althusser and the cry, "Against the urgency of people dying in the streets, what in God's name is the point of cultural studies?”  I remember as well the time I spent that summer with Hall's warm, rich voice resonating in my headset as I transcribed that talk for the subsequent book.

His was what Melissa Gregg once called one of cultural studies’ affective voices. And it will be sorely missed.