"...the ideal book for students of cultural theory and one that is sensitively attuned to the political challenges of our times. Whether explaining dialectical materialism or the lyrics of Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys, Kate McGowan is an enlightening and entertaining guide." Professor Stephen Regan, Durham University From a man with electric underpants, to the indelible mark of 9/11 in a global cultural imaginary, Kate McGowan addresses the questions of cultural meaning and value which confront us all today. The book explores the often complex paradigms of critical thinking and discusses the possibilities of engaging and critiquing the cultural values that relate to our present. Dealing directly with the issues entailed in cultural analysis, the book avoids simply looking at the eminent authors or movements in critical and cultural theory, and instead focuses on why studying culture matters to us today: What are the 'proper' objects of cultural study? What makes something 'art'? What can critical and cultural theory contribute to contemporary debates about ethics? What possibilities are opened up by theories of 'otherness' in thinking about the stranger or outsider in today's society? How does a culture contest its own values - in relation to race, gender, class, sexuality and a variety of faiths and abilities? Key Issues in Critical and Cultural Theory is key reading for students studying humanities, and for those with an interest in culture, aesthetics, ethics and philosophy who want to understand how these affect the world.