History of the Program

Drawing on faculty and graduate students associated with the Program in Social Theory and Cross-Cultural Studies, as well as others interested in the possibilities of developing a flexible model for the institutionalization of cultural studies, Cultural Studies @ UNC was established in July of 1995, quickly attaining state-wide, national and international prominence for its encouragement of interdisciplinary research and education in cultural studies. Our 1995-96 inaugural lecture series featured such prominent international cultural studies scholars as Stuart Hall, Catherine Hall, Tony Bennett, Paul Gilroy, Vron Ware, Johannes Fabian and Henry Giroux, as well as an undergraduate-coordinated conference Vertigo: A conference on autobiography and identity, featuring Dick Hebdige.

“Medical Cultures,” the theme of the 1996-97 series, connected the rich resources of the local, national and international medical and the academic communities: Anne Balsamo, Lisa Cartwright, Paul Farmer, Margaret Lock, Bruno Latour, Allan Young and Paula Treichler. This series culminated in Telling Bodies: A conference on medical narratives and narratives of medicine, a rare opportunity for dialogue between medical professionals, scholars and the various publics that they serve.

This commitment to engaging the various publics at UNC and in North Carolina continued to drive the 1997-98 Cultural Studies @ UNC lecture series, “Culture and the Environment” and the 1998-99 lecture series, “CS4 intersections” represented some of the most exciting work in cultural studies, poised at the interstices of critical, cultural, queer, political, and performance theories, and engaged with issues of crucial importance to our contemporary context.