This page, uploaded on November 29, 2006 is complementary to my customized search engines on Swicki and Google related to the work of Rob Shields, PhD, Tory Chair, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, CA. I will be including an annotated webliography brief biography, intellectual geneaology, list of books, journal articles, online articles, interviews, etc, list of reviews of his publications, list of articles, publications, blogs informed by his work. This will be done in the slow world.
Lahey, Anita (2001) Putting the Pop in Culture. University Affairs: Canada‘s magazine on higher education (AUCC). http://www.universityaffairs.ca/issues/2001/dec/e_pg23.pdf
Abstract: From the Simpsons to the World Wrestling Federation, pop culture is ubiquitous and widely consumed. Yet the study of pop culture, in Canada at least, is still in its infancy and garners little respect within academia. Today’s pop culture scholars are trying to change all that (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
The roots of cultural study in Canada are difficult to unearth. Some cite the work of the late University of Toronto professor, Marshall McLuhan, in the ’50s and ’60s. Others insist the study existed, if not in name, as far back as the ’20s. But a pop culture introductory course Dr. Grant created and taught at Brock in 1978 was among the first clearly defined pop culture classes in Canada. Back then, he says, even film studies – his other specialty – was held in suspicion. “I had some missionaryworker convincing to do, that I was a legitimate academic” (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
Three years later, Rob Shields, then a student (with an architecture background) in sociology and anthropology at Carleton, enrolled in the first cultural studies classes offered there. He furthered his pop culture education in the U.K., where, in the late 1950s, academics had first embraced working-class culture as worthy of study. Now back at Carleton, he teaches cultural studies in the department of anthropology and
sociology. Twenty years on, the discipline has, disappointingly for him, hardly grown at all, in numbers or strength. Instead, he has watched it see-saw as professors came and went, heading to the U.S. or the U.K., where cultural studies is more entrenched. It is picking up again now, partly due to interest in globalization. But overall, says Dr. Shields, “The bandwidth to talk about popular culture in Canada, the openings for that, have been very small indeed (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
Lively pockets of pop culture thinking do exist at McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal, and the University of Alberta. But Brock is the only place that has managed to begin its own school of pop culture, partly due to the administration’s recent decision to expand its offerings of graduate programs. A similar attempt at Carleton 10 years ago failed. “Cultural studies was seen as a threat to the established disciplines,” says Dr. Shields. “I remember someone standing up from the German department and saying, ‘What will we do in the future when everything’s become cultural studies and it’s all interdisciplinary? Who will study German?’ It was perceived to be integrating all the disciplines into one big framework” (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
It’s a late September evening on the seventh floor of an institutional building at Carleton University in Ottawa. The classroom is packed. A blonde, fresh-eyed student, at the urging of the professor, is trying to sing a Sesame Street tune: “Three of these things belongs together, one of these things just isn’t the same . . .” Projected on a screen are graphic diagrams of 17th century Dutch punishments for murder: the feeding of men to pigs, the pouring of molten lead down perpetrators’ throats. Professor Rob Shields paces, waving a copy of cultural theorist Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Welcome to the surreal and intriguing “Power and Everyday Life,” a course offered by Carleton University’s sociology and anthropology department that attracts 60 to 80 second-year and graduate students each year. As the weeks pass Dr. Shields will draw these young scholars into vigorous examination of the mundane moments of our lives: waiting for the bus, riding the elevator, walking down the street. “All of those in-between times,” he says. “This great sphere where people actually have some decision-making power.” Some argue it’s within apparently innocuous moments that significant changes are born – as well as events from riots to race crimes – yet they fall outside the boundaries of regular academic study. “We’ll study political economy but we don’t look at how people interact when they’re not thinking about it, the things they blurt out,” says Dr. Shields. “You don’t see that in a study of life at work, or life in the family.” He hopes to change that. And his students are quickly realizing it’s not a task he approaches lightly. Aside from Foucault, their reading list includes Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, a chapter of Caroline Walker-Bynum’s book of essays on gender and the human body in medieval religion and John O’Neill’s Sociology as a Skin Trade. They are already becoming well-versed in notions related to “logics” of torture and resemblance, “grids of intelligibility”, even the political undertones of dressage. But they must also – sweet relief – remain capable of alluding to Sesame Street. Aah, the breadth of cultural studies . . (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
[ . . .] almost defeats the purpose. I think it’s more profitable to see it as genuinely multidisciplinary. Nevertheless, the status quo is hardly ideal. Consider Dr. Shields, an architectural scholar teaching popular culture in a sociology and anthropology department. He watches his own students meet similar unmoored fates. One post-doc has leapt from literature at one school to communications at McGill and is iffy on where she’ll end up. [. . .] As are the students who find themselves ace-to-face with Dr. Shields, at Carleton. His “Power and Everyday Life” course for second-year students is heavy, with required readings of dense discourses accompanied by weekly written responses. In week one he assigned a reading from Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. “It’s a particularly lurid escription of a person being drawn and quartered. This was a spectacle of torture. Their assignment is to read it and give a reaction. They may, if they wish, relate it o recent spectacular terrorism [at the World Trade Center]. In both cases, the population is supposed to learn a lesson (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
Prodding students to relate older writings and contexts to today’s culture and society is key to the academic rigour and depth of a good course in cultural studies [. . ] But many come around. And if all students drawn to pop culture are like graduate student Ms. Velasco, these professors have little to fear about their toddling discipline. “I hope that popular ulture will be become more accepted,” she says in an e-mail. “After all, the only way we can change society is if we understand ourselves. We definitely
need more culturally aware people in this world (Lahey 2001: 23-6).
Urls promoted in my Google Customized Search Engines (CSE):
These will be annotated, added to deli.cio.us and Swicki.
Urls I rejected in my Google Customized Search Engines (CSE):
The name Rob Shields is on all these sites but they do not refer to Rob M. Shields, PhD.