A Few Don'ts (And Dos) By A Cultural Phenomenologist

Steven Connor

Not a Manifesto

I found myself carrying on writing this in the course of coming upon the kind of work I now most want to do. What follows is not a manifesto, by which I mean that it is no simple making manifest of something whose nature and effects are already clearly known. Its primary aim is not to convert others to a cause, or to lay down the law, sweeping away the existing past and present of cultural studies in the name of some new dispensation. It would probably be better described as an attempt at invocation; an attempt by magical naming to conjure up a form of cultural-historical investigation that I would like to do and see more of. In other words, I haven't come down from the mountain: what I will find to say will have been loitering where all the ladders start.

Nor Even My Own Invention

I have already given a name to this kind of work in my title. It is: cultural phenomenology, or CP. I do not pretend to be the only begetter of this term; I have abducted it. I believe I first encountered it in discussions with my colleague Isobel Armstrong, who has been using it for some time to describe her investigations into what she calls `glass consciousness', or the nature and meaning of the technologies of glass during the nineteenth century.

| Steve Connor | English and Humanities | Birkbeck College |