This paper tries to provide a critical overview of Stuart Hall’s cultural theory. Stuart Hall is being considered a figure who embodies a living history in British cultural studies, as Terry Eagleton says, “he is a kind of walking chronicle of everything from the New Left to New Times, Leavis to Lyotard, Aldermaston to ethnicity.” It means not merely that Hall is one of the representative figures in the British New Left but that he is a controversial one who has continuously intervened in the British intellectual debate since the late 1950s and formed a tradition of the British New Left and cultural studies. So his theoretical trajectories can serve as a map of the history of the postwar British cultural left. The most important characteristics of his cultural theory lies in the fact that he has focused upon the contemporary and new cultural phenomena emerging in the postwar British society. His senior theorists, such as E. P. Thomson, Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart, paid attention to the cultural aspects of British society but their emphasis was upon the popular culture or experience which disappeared with the advent of the mass culture. But Hall gives above all priority to the newly emerging cultural phenomena. This paper tries to examine how Hall’s emphasis on the new or the contemporary is shaped and what influence it gives on his later theoretical developments.
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