A ‘lost’, unpublished book by the renowned cultural theorist Stuart Hall – who died, aged 82, on 10 February 2014 – has been discovered by University of Birmingham academics. The 80,000-100,000-word manuscript, called A Cure for Marriage: A Case Study in Method, was co-written by Hall in 1968 and was long-thought lost by scholars.
But researchers on the Stuart Hall Archive Project recently discovered it among 89 boxes of papers, teaching materials and recordings given to the Cadbury Research Library by Hall’s family in 2018, which are only now being meticulously worked through.
Reading this book is a bit like sitting next to somebody on Sigmund Freud’s couch. We know the ideas of psychoanalysis Freud ended up publishing. But we didn’t know how he actually did it.”Nick Beech - Associate Professor of social policy at the University of Birmingham and and one of the principal investigators on the Stuart Hall Archive Project.
Stuart Hall joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham as a research fellow when it opened in 1964 – the first cultural studies centre in Britain. He went on to become one of the founding fathers of cultural theorism in Britain and A Cure for Marriage shows how he grappled with the principles of this new school of thought.
Each chapter demonstrates a method of cultural studies, analysing in different ways the contemporary short story, ‘A Cure for Marriage’, from a magazine. The same story was presented at several seminars to students at the centre throughout 1964 and the book is the collaborative result of their work and other scholars at the centre.
Ultimately, the book provides the missing link between Hall’s shift in thinking from the text as a coherent object towards structuralism, where the text mediates deeper relationships within society. “This is a text that shows us that shift,” Nick Beech tells the New Stateman. “And it resolves a lot of debates that have been going on ever since about why he made that move.”