“Against the urgency of people dying in the streets, what in God’s name is the point of cultural studies? … At that point, I think anybody who is into cultural studies seriously as an intellectual practice, must feel, on their pulse, its ephemerality, its insubstantiality, how little it registers, how little we’ve been able to change anything or get anybody to do anything. If you don’t feel that as one tension in the work that you are doing, theory has let you off the hook.”
– Stuart Hall
We may allow Stuart Hall’s recent death to mark an opportunity for reflection on the history of the field of cultural studies, its inherited imperatives and future trajectories. Hall called for a direct engagement between the academy and the social world ‘outside’ of it, imagining cultural studies as the site of this interaction – and hence a site of both contestation and radical politics. Compared to fields such as sociology, this imperative was reflected in a methodological freedom that has been the basis of cultural studies’ flourishing and the crisis of identity which seems to continually confront it. Is this freedom a threat to cultural studies’raison d’être and character, once located in the sense of political urgency inherited from Hall, or does it now encompass a more abstract reading of the political as rhetorical and aesthetic production? Is this move away from its Marxist roots a denaturing of cultural studies, or a necessary move with the times? And what does the shift in cultural studies tell us about the shift in contemporary politics more generally?
This conference will involve a genealogical reading of the field of cultural studies, opening up to an interrogation of its contemporary orientation, aims and (anti-) methodologies. From its right to risk and experimentation to its urge to bring knowledge outside of institutions, we seek to explore cultural studies’ different iterations in order to reaffirm its contemporary relevance as both an academic field and a political force.
** Papers are welcome from all postgraduate departments – and all those interested outside the university **
Contributions could include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
•The relation between cultural studies and sociology/science/philosophy/fine art/digital technologies
•History or historiography of cultural studies
•Cultural studies vs. critical theory (Frankfurt School)
•Cultural studies from a non-Western perspective
•Gender politics in cultural studies
•The relation between theory and practice
•Critical perspectives on methodologies and disciplinary structures
•Post-Marxism and cultural studies
•The university as site for political struggle
•Theory as ‘real abstraction’
•The interplay between art, research and politics
•Knowledge production under computation-based media technologies
DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: 12th May 2014
Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, for presentations of between 10-20 minutes. Please include a 100 word biography with your name, email address and institutional affiliation (where possible). Submissions should be sent to email@example.com. Please include the words “CFP: Urgency and Abstraction” in the subject title.
Conference at Goldsmiths, University of London
(exact date TBC)