Laurie Taylor column

November 22, 2002

"Quasi-academic degrees are winning favour" - THES , November 15.

Item 16 on the agenda. Statement by Professor Lapping.

Thank you, Dr Quintock. Some of you around this table will remember that fateful day back in 1976 when the name of this department was changed from the Department of Social Studies to the Department of Media and Cultural Studies. As events have shown, that was a bold and prescient move.

Hear, hear.

At the time there were those who felt that abandoning the massive theoretical legacy of Marx, Comte, Weber and Durkheim for nothing more than half-a-dozen badly written monographs on Dynasty and Coronation Street was an act of intellectual philistinism. But the results in terms of student recruitment speak for themselves.

Hear, hear.

How long, though, will that situation persist? All around the country brand new courses are taking off - courses in video-game design, music therapy, kebab retailing, university management, feng shui, and advanced body piercing. Are we in danger of being left behind? Is media studies becoming a tad passé ? Is now the moment to say goodbye to genre, text, narrative, encoding, the male gaze, bricolage and signifying practices and engage with the new intellectual currents of thought that characterise the disciplines of golf studies or sports science?

Professor Lapping, those are indeed bold questions. But if we do decide to reconstitute this department, then it should surely be on the basis of a free vote. Your own preference for a sports-oriented department has already been made far too evident.

In what way?

It not only loomed large in your presentation but...

To the point, Dr Quintock.

Am I the only one in the room who noticed that our traditional tea and biscuits had been replaced this afternoon by a plate of orange halves?

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