The University of Birmingham is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth of cultural studies as an academic field with a series of events and exhibitions.


The first Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), launched by the University in 1964, is widely regarded as the pioneer in the study of popular culture. From the styles of the mods and rockers to the representation of women in magazines and the study of immigrant life in Britain, the CCCS researched areas of ‘mass culture’ – magazines, Hollywood and popular television – that had previously been unstudied. 

Cultural studies has since spread across the globe and become a well-established discipline.

Events to mark its half-century include an exhibition at mac birmingham, looking at the legacy and continuing significance of the CCCS. The show features archive material relating to the Centre, work by contemporary artists and previously unseen artwork from CCCS students, including that of Janet Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn studied at the CCCS in the late 1960s and captured gritty scenes of urban decay, and day-to-day life of the population of Birmingham suburb Balsall Heath.

There will also be a conference, hosted by the University, with speakers including Geoff Eley, Lawrence Grossberg, Richard Johnson and Jackie Stacey. The conference will also feature a previously unseen video interview with the late Stuart Hall. 

In addition, the University is holding an archive exhibition showcasing material from the newly-established CCCS archive at the Cadbury Research Library. An art exhibition will take place in the Bramall building featuring the work of Mahasiddhi (formerly Roy Peters): Comprising a series of portraits of CCCS academics, the images are strongly influenced by Mahasiddhi’s time at the Centre. 

Dr Kieran Connell, a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s School of History and Cultures who has curated the exhibitions and studies the history of the CCCS, said: “The photographs by Janet Mendelsohn are a unique insight into the changing dynamics of Birmingham in the 1960s. They explore the arrival of immigrants into the city from the Caribbean and south Asia, the continuing impact of poverty on people’s lives and everyday routines. The photographs represent a beautiful snapshot of a changing world.”

For further information and media enquiries please contact Faye Jackson in the University of Birmingham press office on +44 (0)121 414 6029. For out of office enquires please email or call +44 (0)7789 921 165.

  • The CCCS 50th anniversary project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England and the University of Birmingham. Partners in the celebration are Birmingham City Council, Cadbury Research Library, mac birmingham and Vivid Projects.
  • For further information about the exhibitions, please visit the CCCS events page.
  • Opened in 1962, mac birmingham is a hub of creativity and learning in the Midlands. With four performance auditoria, rehearsal and media studios, a cinema, and a visual art gallery, mac birmingham presents a broad range of contemporary work from both emerging and established artists across genres. mac birmingham is the most visited arts centre in the Midlands, ranked the ‘Top Free Attraction West Midlands 2012’ in a recent survey carried out by Visit England and positioned 15th nationally in the same category.
  • Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.