Stuart Hall (1932-) - Key Figures in Literary Theory

The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory - Gregory Castle 2007

Stuart Hall (1932-)
Key Figures in Literary Theory

Stuart Hall was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to England in 1951. He was a Rhodes Scholar at oxford University, where he received the MA degree. During the 1950s and early '60s, Hall was active in socialist movements and, together with Charles Taylor, Gabriel Pearson, and others, started a journal of art and criticism, Universities and New Left Review, which later became the New Left Review. After the publication of his first book, The Popular Arts (1965), Hall was invited to join the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham in 1964. By 1968, he had taken over as director. During these years, British Cultural Studies was concerned primarily with sociological investigations of British society and the critique of IDEOLOGY. Hall's own work included a study of the SEMIOTICS of television in 1973 and a work done in collaboration with other members of the Centre, Policing the Crisis. This volume draws from Antonio Gramsci's interpretation of Marxism to argue that the racist representation of violent street crime by the British press in the 1970s masked economic and social crises.

By the time Hall moved to the Open University in 1979, where he was a professor of sociology until he retired, Cultural Studies was beginning to be recognized as a major theoretical field. In 1980, Hall published an important essay, “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms,” that sketched the history and theoretical influences on British Cultural Studies and suggested that there were two models from which to choose: culturalist and structuralist. Throughout the 1980s, Hall edited a number ofvolumes on Cultural Studies, sociology, the modern state, modernity, and Marxism. He also published The Hard Road to Renewal, a study of Margaret Thatcher's years as Prime Minister and the effects of those years on the British left. Hall's range of interests extended beyond the national context as well; his work on DIASPORIC IDENTITIES and immigration, for example, has contributed much to our understanding of the global ramifications of the modern multicultural state. Many of these issues are addressed in a collection of essays by and about Hall, Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (1996). Hall continues to be widely read and influential, as evidenced by the essay collection dedicated to him, Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall (2000).


Hall, Stuart. Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. Ed. David Morely and Kuan- Hsing Chen. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

---- . “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms.” Media, Culture and Society 2 (1980): 57-72.

---- . The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left. London and New York: Verso, 1988.

---- et al., Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1978.