nicholas daly is professor of modern English and American literature at University College Dublin and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. His publications include the books Modernism, Romance, and the Fin de Siècle (1999), Literature, Technology, and Modernity (2004), Sensation and Modernity in the 1860s (2009), and The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth-Century City: Paris, London, New York (2015). He serves on the advisory boards of the Journal of Victorian Culture, Novel, and the Irish University Review.
In this short article, Daly considers the history of literary cultural studies from its heyday in the 1990s to its current more modest position. There are a number of reasons one could adduce for its slide into relative marginality, including the predictable dilution of such a politically engaged approach within the academy as well as various external factors. However, Daly suggests that the single factor that has done most to dethrone cultural studies has not been institutional or external pressure but the internal tendencies of literary study as a field of practice. There are, nonetheless, various ways in which we can make more of the political legacy of cultural studies.