This book, like all in its series, intends to simplify a topic with short remarks (crowded with cartoons) for short attention spans and easy access. For the topic of Cultural Studies, however, it fails to state the obvious - that Cultural Studies (CS) is a political faction. One invented as an ally against the West now that communism failed so miserably. CS is a close relative to Feminist Theory, Women's Studies and White Studies, all pushing political agendas - under the guise of academic freedom - with as much intellectually sounding venom as they can pass without simply stating their rage in English. The book does a fair job of revealing how CS does this, without intending to be so transparent - i.e. searching for historical connections between modern "signs & symbols" and some form of oppression, real or imagined. Still using Foucault's long dismissed "other", CS scours Western Civilization for those capable of carrying our highly cherished label of "victim" in order to indict the West. Like its postmodern relations, this book does a fair job in displaying how much denial, selectivity and willful ignorance is required to keep the "theory" safe, sounding a great deal like religious fundamentalism.
We see the goal of CS is to bring forward lost meanings associated with signs and symbols or recast them though convenient revision in order to keep the fires of loathing burning hot. The purpose being to motivate oppressed "others" enough to one day break free by an inspired force demanded when resisting the Giant David. If it weren't for CS, the oppressed frequently wouldn't even know they were (recalling the infamous Mary Koss / Ms Magazine rape study).
Opening with an analysis of the name of an Indian restaurant, its historical connections to oppression by a colonial, imperialistic West we see how the argument unfolds. The Lincoln Monument serves as a simple example for Americans: A copy of the Parthenon of ancient Athens, a symbol ("sign") of civilization's greatest achievements in art, engineering, the rule of law, democracy, valor, and heroism, all wrapped up in a temple to the goddess Athena. To those tenured in Cultural Studies, this copy in the form of Lincoln's Monument is "in fact" a symbol of male oppression over women, clearly expressed by the statue of a god-like male stealing the thrown of a goddess, with not even a mention, sign or symbol of women in the entire building. And of a white man to boot. Ignoring the small matter of Lincoln's opposition to slavery - merely as a "text" - there is no sign or symbol for people of color, or other sexuality. Racism, sexism and homophobia seep from its marble walls. Signs of dominance, of Western reason, law, science, all on display to intimidate non-Western peoples through the usurpation of architecture from a long dead people as though it were our own. Where is it fairly stated that Lincoln's Monument is a copy, or that Jefferson's is the Roman Pantheon or Washington's an Egyptian Obelisk? (Empires all.) It isn't. To Americans, these are, "Just another pretty building". If we only realized these were beacons of subjugation, we might be persuaded to bring them to their foundations and to the gleeful satisfaction of our scholars.
One will not discover in Cultural Studies (this book or others) that without exception, every civilization, religion, race, gender or sexuality has committed crimes against other people, animals and the planet because to CS - like all of postmodernism - an exclusive group is to be found guilty. The goal is not to correct wrongs, but to create more in order to delight emotional desires to get even. The application of reason, naturally, a form of "Western bigotry", is not to be found well practiced in CS, as with any dogma.
And this is what we teach succeeding generations at the university... Doomed.