Responding to the editor's request for reflections on the key terms in the title of this journal, this somewhat autobiographical and possibly self-indulgent piece reflects on their changing meanings and on the ways in which cultural studies has changed and declined since the early 1990s.
Cultural studies, the piece asserts, is a bit like rave culture, because like that subcultural formation of music and dance, it was big and quite innovative in the 1990s, but lost its edge in the twenty first century – although interesting offshoots continue beyond the places where it
‘originated’. The piece also suggests some reasons for the decline of cultural studies. More importantly, it tries to understand the term ‘critical’ via politics. It expresses some preferences, in terms of what constitutes good critical writing, and outlines some key
elements of good critical analysis of culture.