Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)UB/CCCS
TitleRecords of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
Extent48 boxes and 1 outsize item
DescriptionThis collection consists of material relating to the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies dating from its establishment, its transition to a Department in 1986 up to its closure in 2002. For the most part, it is made up of material that was left behind in the University following its closure. This includes the various publications that the Centre produced consisting of its annual reports, 'Stencilled Occasional Papers' and its journal, 'Working Papers in Cultural Studies', as well as a large number of periodicals that the Centre subscribed to, which are demonstrative of the developing research interests at the Centre and its various political committments. The collection also includes a small number of administrative and teaching materials consisting of memos, course handouts, minutes from meetings, and some visual resources that were used at the Centre in a later period
ArrangementThe records have been arranged into six series, as follows:
A: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies publications
B: Periodicals
C: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies sub-group and other administrative material
D: Teaching materials
E: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies film recordings
F: Miscellaneous Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies items
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was established in 1964 within the Department of English following the appointment of Richard Hoggart as Professor of English two years earlier. Hoggart served as its first Director until his resignation in 1972. The Centre was formally constituted in the spring of 1964, and Stuart Hall was appointed as its first research fellow in April that year. It formally opened to students in October 1964. The initial purpose and scope of the Centre were set out by Richard Hoggart in his inaugural lecture at the University of Birmingham 'Schools of English and Contemporary Society' in 1963 in which he proposed three areas of study: 'historical and philosophical' which was concerned with the terms in which debates about contemporary culture and societal change were carried out; 'the sociology of literature and the arts' which encompassed research in the disciplines of literary criticism, sociology and social psychology, and social history; and 'the critical-evaluative' which involved in-depth studies of popular art and culture and mass media, drawing on sociology and social psychology but with a critical-evaluative approach. Research projects were grouped around a focus of interest to promote group work. The work of the Centre was carried out through seminars and meeting of individual project groups, known as 'sub-groups' by the mid 1970s. The terms of the original brief were developed and refined during the existence of the Centre - literary and social criticism; analysis of popular culture. Cultural Studies defined as ensemble of subjects including literary criticism, history, sociology and social psychology. Refinement of tools of literary criticism for the purpose of 'cultural analysis' - close reading and studies of texts and events. By the time of the 1966-1967 annual report, the aim of the Centre was to develop an understanding of the interaction between culture and society by theoretical inquiry and particular studies in depth. By the late 1970s the Centre had also taken up seriously issues raised by feminism, and by the early 1980s it was also addressing issues raised by black politics. Under the directorship of first Hoggart and then Stuart Hall and Richard Johnson, and with the commitment of Michael Green throughout, the Centre operated at the intersections of literary criticism, sociology, history and anthropology. Rather than focus on ‘high’ culture, the intention was to carry out group research on areas of popular culture such as chart music, television programmes and advertising. This approach went profoundly against the grain of conventional academic practice

The Centre was also open to occasional students engaged on a piece of research but not presenting it for a higher degree, and to students studying for a Masters degree in the Department of Sociology. The Centre's annual reports contain information about individual and group research projects and lists of speakers at general seminars. It was intended that full length studies would be published regularly by arrangement between the Centre and a publisher, and shorter studies or reports would be published directly by the Centre as 'occasional papers'. The first series of papers appeared during the 1960s. A second series of papers, known as 'stencilled occasional papers' was started in the early 1970s.

The Centre was located first within the Arts building and at Westmere. It included a library with books and subscriptions to journals and magazines. It moved to the newly completed Muirhead Tower building in the early 1970s. It was initially self-financing and derived its main source income from a grant from Penguin Books, but was also funded by smaller private grants which enabled it to support graduate work and research projects, as well as larger grants from bodies such as the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust, and the Gulbenkian Foundation. For the academic year 1965-1966 the University Grants Committee provided funding to cover purchase of books and equipment. On Richard Hoggart's resignation as Director, the Board of the Faculty of Arts set up a Working Party to consider the Centre's future which resulted in the decision for it to continue as an independent research and graduate unit within the Faculty of Arts, with direct funding from the University. Its Board of Studies reported directly to the Faculty Board. An additional member of staff was recruited, and Dr Richard Johnson, a social historian formerly in the Department of Economic History, was appointed. Michael Green also formally transferred to the Centre from the Department of English in 1977. Stuart Hall left the Centre in 1979 when he was appointed Professor in Sociology at the Open University, and Richard Johnson was appointed Director in 1980. Maureen McNeil was also appointed as a member of staff.

The Centre developed contacts with teachers and lecturers in Adult and Further Education, Colleges of Art, and teacher training. It organised conferences and developed links with similar institutions and organisations in Britain and abroad. Initially members of the Centre worked toward an MA or PhD degree by thesis only, but a taught MA course was launched in 1975. Undergraduate students were also able to take courses in the Centre, and a formal 'half degree' within the Faculty of Arts Combined Honours structure in 'Communications and Cultural Studies' was introduced in 1982. By the mid 1980s the popularity of courses at the Centre combined with the small number of staff meant that student recruitment had to be reduced. The Director, Richard Johnson, appealed to the University for the Centre to be made a Department in the annual report of 1985-1986 in order to safeguard its identity and autonomy, and gained the support of the Faculty of Arts in recommending that it remain an autonomous unit and be given departmental status. In January 1988 the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was absorbed into a new unit called the Department of Cultural Studies within the Faculty of Commerce and Social Science. It was staffed by the former members of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and two former members of the disbanded Sociology Department, John Gabriel and Jorge Larrain. Jorge Larrain was appointed first head of the new Department, and a new single honours degree in Media, Culture and Society was offered from October 1989. The Department became the Centre for Cultural Studies and Sociology in 1999 but was closed by the University of Birmingham in 2002.

Source: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies annual reports 1964-1988
AcquisitionTransferred from the Department of Sociology, October 2010
Archival NoteCatalogued by Kieran Connell, July 2013, as part of AHRC funded project 'The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies: connected collaboration, connected communities and connected impact. Description prepared in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; and National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997
CopiesDigital copies of holdings of the Annual Reports are available as pdf copies via the individual item records in the online archive catalogue
Digital copies of holdings of the Stencilled Occasional Papers are available via the University of Birmingham's digital repository:
Related MaterialSpecial Collections holds research papers of several former members of staff and students of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Please contact Special Collections for further information
Other collections relating to the examination of contemporary culture: MS222 'What do audiences learn from action adventure films?'; and MS221 'Consumption, lifestyle and identity: reading the new men's lifestyle magazines' research papers


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