Category Archives: Events

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Annual Lecture with Angela McRobbie

UEL Centre for Cultural Studies Research

Annual Lecture 

Women, Benefit Shaming

and the Dismantling of Welfare

A Feminist Critique of Neoliberalism 

Angela McRobbie

Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London

University Square Stratford, Room USG 17 

1 Salway Road London E15 1NF
 
(Map: http://www.universitysquarestratford.ac.uk/find-us.htm)
 

Wednesday  May 31st  2017, 6:30 pm

Professor Angela McRobbie has been a leading figure in Cultural Studies since the mid-1970s. Her published work encompasses  books and articles on feminist theory, gender and popular culture, fashion and creative economy, and working lives in the culture industries. She is currently Mercator Fellow, Germany where she is completing a book on feminism and the culture of neoliberalism (polity 2018).  

Her most recent books include

Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries 

The Aftermath of Feminism

The Uses of Cultural Studies 

This lecture makes an argument about the centrality of women’s participation in work and in family life as a critical tenet of contemporary neoliberalism’s dismantling of welfare. A key means for effecting this change includes a gendered modality of benefit shaming.

Admission is free to all and there is no need to book.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/403413620031992/

Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings – Book Launch

Date: 9 March 2017 6.00pm

Launch of Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings 

Venue: University of East London, University Square Stratford (five minutes from Stratford Underground)

Speakers

Bill Schwarz  (Queen Mary University)
Roshi Naidoo (Soundings)
Jeremy Gilbert  (University of East London)
Chair: Sally Davison (Lawrence and Wishart and Soundings).

At 7.30pm there will be a drinks reception to celebrate the book and the establishment of a Stuart Hall Fellowship at the University of East London.

Organised by Lawrence and Wishart, The University of East London and the Stuart Hall Foundation,

Admission is free, but tickets should be booked in advance.

Book HERE

Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings contains eighteen of his outstanding political contributions, including his writing on the New Left, Thatcherism and neoliberalism. It is published by Lawrence and Wishart in January 2017. .  

Book Launch &Discussion of- Alternatives to Neoliberalism: Towards Equality and Democracy

Invitation

Book Launch &Discussion of
Alternatives to Neoliberalism –

Towards Equality and Democracy

Tuesday 14th March 6.0 pm

University of East London

USG.19, University Square Stratford,

Salway Rd, E15 1NF
(DLR, Jubilee, Central & rail lines to Stratford station)

with

Anna Coote~ Jeremy Gilbert~ Bryn Jones~ Mike O’Donnell

 

Refreshments provided

All welcome, no charge

To Book:  www.eventbrite.com/e/book-launch-alternatives-to-neoliberalism-tickets-32244727849

OR contact: hssbj@bath.ac.uk

More information at: alternativestoneoliberalism.org;

https://policypress.co.uk/alternatives-to-neo-liberalism

The Last Days of Neoliberalism (audio available)

What is  the nature of the current historical conjuncture?

Does Brexit mark the limit point of the the 30-year phase of neoliberalisation, or a new intensification of the long hegemony of the Right?

 

Two events were held in the same week….

The End Of Neoliberalism?

15th december: 10am-5pm

The  Audio of this is now available on our podcast feed 

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City university, college building, room a130

272-278 St John St, London EC1V 4PB

Free, all welcome, no need to book

Presented by 

The Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries at City, University of London

&

The Centre for Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of East London

In 2016, almost a decade after the worst financial crisis for eighty years, it seems there are signs that neoliberalism is finally in retreat. The ruling common sense of policy makers, economists, business people, and mainstream journalists on a global basis since the 1980s, neoliberalism had seemed all but indefatigable. Yet a series of signs today point towards a radical shift. From the rise of new populist political movements on the left and the right, to the seeming reversal of global trade, and the calamitous brexit vote in the uk, the existing state of neoliberal affairs is in a process of transition. Underpinning many of these indicators is a shift in political logic, from one which placed the market at the centre of human life, to one which is focused on preservation of the border. The questions that arise from this confluence of events are multiple:

  • Is this the end of neoliberalism, or a point of inflection towards a new mutation?
  • Is neoliberalism merely equivalent to the process of globalisation, or not?
  • Is this a global ‘hegemonic crisis’?
  • What happens to existing neoliberal regimes and modes of governance once the border takes precedence over the market?
  • Can this transformation be said to have been generated by neoliberalism itself?
  • How is this shift inflected by particular local cultural, social, political, and economic conditions?
  • Is the future one of ethno-nationalist fascism or some other form of authoritarianism?
  • What does rising nationalism look like in an era of global technological communications?
  • What are the prospects for contending this crisis from the left?

With:

Christine Berry: principal director for policy & government, New Economics Foundation.

Aditya Chakrabortty: senior economics commentator for The Guardian.

William Davies: reader in political economy at goldsmiths, university of london and author of The Limits Of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty And The Logic Of Competition.

Sara Farris: senior lecturer in sociology at goldsmiths, university of london. She is currently a member of the editorial board of historical materialism and international book review editor for critical sociology.

Alan Finlayson: professor of political and social theory at the university of east anglia. He is also chair of the editorial board of the political journal Renewal.

Jeremy Gilbert: professor of cultural and political theory at the university of east london and the editor of New Formations.

Jo Littler: reader in the centre for cultural industries in the dept of sociology, city, university of london. Her new book Against Meritocracy will be published next year.

James Meadway: economic advisor to the shadow chancellor.

Catherine Rottenberg: marie sklodowska curie fellow in the sociology department, goldsmiths and senior lecturer in the department of foreign literatures and linguistics and the gender studies program, ben-gurion university of the negev, beer sheva, israel. Her most recent publication is

“neoliberal feminism and the future of human capital” forthcoming in Signs.

Alex williams: lecturer in the centre for culture and the creative industries, in the dept. of sociology at city, university of london. He is the author of Inventing The Future: Postcapitalism and A World Without Work.

Who Broke Britain?

Presented by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London  as part of the Culture, Power, Politics series (go to the website if you would like to listen to the podcast)

December 12th 2016 6:30-8:30 pm (or a bit later…)

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With Ayeisha Thomas-Smith (Compass), Anthony Barnett (open Democracy) and Jeremy Gilbert (UEL)

Open School East

The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ

All welcome – no prior booking required

This seminar will be the latest occasional instalment in the ‘Culture, Power and Politics‘ series, bringing together many of the conceptual themes discussed over the past year to understand what is happening to British politics, society and culture at the end of a tumultuous year.

In the 1970s the politics of the New Right created an unlikely fusion between anti-state individualism and authoritarian social conservatisim.  Today, the contradictory effects of these agendas have driven the country to breaking point. The UK is falling apart, as England votes for Brexit while the rest of the country, including London, looks on aghast and wonders if there is a way out. A 40-year campaign of misinformation by the popular press has carried our political culture into the age of ‘post-truth politics’ . The inability of the technocratic elite to manage post-democratic societies has been brutally revealed by Brexit. How did we get here and where are we going?

 

How did we get here?  Forgotten Moments, Lost Leaders, and Remembering our Recent Radical Past

 

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Culture, Power and Politics is a series of open seminars, free to anyone, which has been hosted by the New Economy Organisers Network and convened and mainly taught by Jeremy Gilbert, a professor at the University of East London.

For the moment, this series has merged with the Introduction to Cultural Studies course at Open School East. Click the link for full details.

The next session will be

Tuesday May 31st 

How did we get here?  Forgotten Moments, Lost Leaders, and Remembering our Recent Radical Past

Special extended session (5:30-8:30) on the radical history of our times with several special guest speakers:

Natasha Nkonde and Deborah Grayson who are researching the radical history of the Greater London Council in the 1980s, Andy Beckett who writes for the Guardian and is that author of two acclaimed major studies of the politics and culture of the 70s and 80s (When the Lights Went Out and Promised You a Miracle) and John Medhurst, author of That Option No Longer Exists, will join us for an extended panel discussion.

This session will start at 5:30 with a discussion with Andy Beckett talking about his historical work and the importance of understanding our recent past
 
(don’t worry if you are a regular attender who can only make it at 6:30 – we’ll understand!)
 
6:30-7:30 Deborah, Natasha and John will be talking about their research,
 
7:30-8:30 Jeremy  offer some observations on how we can use some key theoretical concepts to illuminate the issues under discussion, along the lines of:
 

How did we get into this mess? Rising inequality, climate catastrophe, miserable youth and a culture which can’t innovate: it’s hard to believe that until some time in the 80s, people actually believed the world was getting better.  Can Cultural Studies help us to understand how we got here? It can and it will.

In this session we’ll bring together many of the ideas from the previous weeks, and the previous term, to see how they can help answer this questions. We’ll be looking at some classic Cultural Studies text such as Sturt Hall et. al’s Policing the Crisis published in 1978 (which starts off analysing newspaper reports about muggings, and ends up basically predicting Thatcherism before anyone else could see it coming), and asking if culture in 2016 is still stuck in ‘the long 1990s’. 

Free, no booking required, no need to have attended pervious events in the series.

 

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/279707685702649/


Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ
6:30-8:30 pm (or a bit later…)
Please forward to anyone who might be interested.

Radical Cultural Studies: CCSR at Open School East

About Radical Cultural Studies

CCSR commissions the Radical Cultural Studies book series published by Rowman & Littlefield International. The aim of the series is to encourage a return to the core project of Cultural Studies: to examine the culturopolitical, sociopolitical, aesthetic and ethical implications of international cultures. We commission work that engages with the lived reality of politics and cultures and is alert to possibilities for social change – to ‘understand … the present in the service of the future’ (Grossberg, 2010: 1). We are interested in writing that analyses cultures as sites of power, which explicitly engages with the materiality and variety of cultural forms, and looks at new, emerging and radical cultures. We would welcome approaches from prospective authors.  CCSR representatives will be present at all seminars.

About Rowman & Littlefield International

Rowman & Littlefield International is a new independent academic publisher in the disciplines of Philosophy, Politics & International Relations, Cultural Studies and Economics. They are particularly intrigued by the interdisciplinary nature of these subject areas. They are committed to bringing incisive modern scholarship to a global readership, insisting on high quality at every point in the publishing process. They firmly believe in the value of publishing cutting-edge research for a scholarly audience.

About OSE

Located in a former library and community centre in De Beauvoir Town, East London, Open School East is a unique space that brings together:

  • A free study programme for emerging artists;
  • A multifaceted programme of public projects and events which facilitate interactions between artists, local residents and audiences from further afield.

Central to Open School East’s approach is a commitment to foster cultural, intellectual and social exchanges between artists and the broader public. They do this by opening their study programme outwards, responding to our locality and providing an informal environment for the sharing of knowledge and skills across various communities – artistic, local and otherwise.

Programme 2016

All lectures and seminars are 6.30 – 8.30pm. There is no charge and no booking is required

January 28

*BOOK LAUNCH*

Maria Tamboukou, University of East London

Sewing, Fighting and Writing: Radical Practices in Work, Politics and Culture

Seamstresses were central figures in the socio-political and cultural events of nineteenth and early twentieth century France but their stories and political writings have remained marginalized and obscured. Drawing on a wide range of published and unpublished documents from the industrial revolution, ‘Sewing, Fighting and Writing’ is a foucauldian genealogy of the Parisian seamstress.

February 18

Lucy Finchett-Maddock, University of Sussex & Matt Fish, SOAS

February 18

Lucy Finchett-Maddock, University of Sussex & Matt Fish, SOAS

Making Home: Reflections on Squatting, Protest, and Private Property

Focusing on the alternative property narratives of ‘social centres’, or political squats, Lucy will suggest that these spaces and their communities create their own – resistant – form of law. Matt will discuss his ethnographic research in squatted spaces around London and his experiences as a squatter and academic. He will talk about the questions that squatting as a spatial practice raises in terms of place, place-making and ethical relationships to space in London. Is there any academically useful approach to squatting, or can it only ever be understood when practiced?

March 10

*BOOK LAUNCH*

Stevphen Shukiatis, University of Essex

The Composition of Movements to Come: Aesthetics & Cultural Labor After the Avant-Garde

How does the avant-garde create spaces in everyday life that subvert regimes of economic and political control? How do art, aesthetics and activism inform one another? And how do strategic spaces of creativity become the basis for new forms of production and governance?

April 28

*BOOK LAUNCH*

Debra Benita Shaw & Maggie Humm, University of East London with Kat Deerfield, Cardiff University

Radical Space: Exploring Politics and Practice 

The spatial turn in the Humanities and Social Sciences has produced a considerable body of work which re-assesses space beyond the fixed Cartesian co-ordinates of Modernity and the nation state.  Radical Space reveals how activists and artists have deployed these theoretical tools to examine and contest spatial practice. Special guest Kat Deerfield will discuss her research into the gendered dimensions of extraterrestrial space.

May 5th

Dan Hassler-Forest, Utrecht University, Netherlands & Julia Dane, University of East London

The Walking Dead: Undead Capitalism, Morality & Affect.

In a late capitalist world that no longer offers any alternatives, the zombie genre has offered potent tools to critique a system that is both unsustainable and –ultimately– apocalyptic. Dan Hassler-Forest will suggest that critical posthumanism offers a way out of the deadlock between capitalism and the apocalyptic imaginary and Julia Dane will argue that The Walking Dead forces the audience to contemplate new frameworks of social value and the moral choices that might be made in an apocalyptic world.

June 9th

Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University

Authoritarian populism and austerity Britain

Kirsten will examine how ‘authoritarian populism’ can be applied to present-day Austerity Britain. There are obvious parallels with rhetoric used in the 1980s and that used today, particularly around ‘scroungers’, ‘benefit’ or ‘health tourists’, ‘swarms’ of refugees, etc. However, in other ways the situation is very different in terms of the parameters of socially acceptable speech, who is seen as belonging to British society and who does not, as well as the conditions facing those of us who want to challenge this and the strategies and tactics we can use.

June 30

Stephen Maddison, University of East London

Comradeship of Cock? Gay porn and the entrepreneurial voyeur

Thirty years of academic and critical scholarship on the subject of gay porn have produced one striking consensus, which is that gay cultures are especially ‘pornified’: porn has arguably offered gay men not only homoerotic visibility, but a heritage culture and a radical aesthetic. At the level of politics and cultural dissent, what’s ‘gay’ about gay porn now? This paper will explore whether processes of legal and social liberalization, and the emergence of networked and digital cultures, have foreclosed or expanded the apparently liberationary opportunities of gay porn.

Free Course! – Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology and Power

Who has power in our cultures and how does it work? How do the ideas we have about what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ influence our decisions? What exactly is technology and how does it affect social change? Cultural Studies makes use of techniques from philosophy, history, sociology, human geography, anthropology, radical economics and political and critical theory to examine these questions in the context of contemporary popular cultures.

This course is an introduction to the subject taught by senior academics moonlighting from their day jobs at the University of East London. The course is free because we believe not only that education should be free but that knowledge is a crucial weapon in the war against all forms of inequality.

If you’ve never been to university, have been but miss the critical debates or are curious about who decides what counts as knowledge in the first place, we’d like to meet you.

There is no set reading (although we’ll recommend some if you’re interested) and no essay assignments, exams or deadlines (although we’ll set some if you want to challenge yourself). All the classes are interactive and give you the chance to think about everyday life in the context of the history of ideas. We’ll provide the learning environment. The rest is up to you.

The first part of the course was written and delivered by Dr Debra Benita Shaw and Dr Stephen Maddison.  You can see the outline of that course and find links to all the slides below.

The second part of the course is open to anyone, whether or not they attended the first part (it won’t be assumed that you necessarily did), and is written and delivered by Professor Jeremy Gilbert and Dr Stephen Maddison. Professor Tim Lawrence might pop in. 

Stephen, Debra,  Jeremy and Tim are co-directors of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research. For more information on the Centre and the University of East London click here

Jeremy is also the main organiser and main teacher of the Culture, Power and Politics series of seminars, which are another set of free open seminars, on very similar themes, hosted by the New Economics Foundation. Because there is so much overlap between the two sets of seminars, there won’t be any separate Culture, Power and Politics seminars this term. Attendees of the Culture, Power and Politics  seminars are encouraged to attend this course, and attendees of this course are encouraged to check out the recordings on the Culture, Power Politics website. Clear enough? Don’t worry – just turn up and you will be bound to learn something interesting. 

Here are the topics for part two of the course: 

Tuesday February 23 2016

We are all migrants

‘Some bunch of migrants’ is what David Cameron called the refugee inhabitants of the Calais ‘jungle’ when Jeremy Corbyn went to visit them. But migration and movement of people has shaped every aspect of our lives and culture, from the forced migrations of the slave trade to the take-away menus on our high street. With the EU referendum just around the corner, and anti-immigration feeling running high in the UK, what hope is there for a progressive cosmopolitan politics today? 

Tuesday March 8th 

Computer World  

‘Computer World’ is the title of Kraftwerk’s best album (yes it is). At just around the time they recorded it, economists, philosophers and social theorists were predicting that the ‘computerisation’ of society would change everything, creating a world of infinite information, without stable values, in which the very idea of being ‘modern’ would come to seem out of date.  Were they right? The technological changes of the past few decades have radically changed how capitalism works – but is it still fundamentally the same old system?

Tuesday March 15th  (NB this is only one week after the last session)

No Such Thing As ‘Society’

“There’s no such thing as society: only individuals (and their families)”. This was perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most notorious public pronouncement. It was also one of the few moments when she made explicit her commitment to the ideals and assumptions of ‘neoliberalism’: the individualistic political philosophy that has come to dominate our politics, our culture and our lives. 

After the 2008 crash, and the rise of Corbynism, we’re hearing a lot of discussion these days about the problems with neoliberal economics, which basically wants to privatise everything, drive down wages and cut taxes for the rich. We don’t hear so much about neoliberalism as a cultural ideology, promoting individualism, competition and greed in every area of life, from the nursery to the hospice. But without understanding this, we can’t understand how  ruling elites have got away with imposing such an unpopular programme for so long. 

We’ll have a think about this here – and take the opportunity to revise a bit of Marx, Gramsci and Foucault. 

Easter break 

Tuesday April 5th 

This is what a feminist looks like 

If historians of the future remember our era for anything, it is probably going to be the unprecedented revolution in the social status of women that we have lived through, and are living through.  But the movement which made that change possible is still derided and feared, often seemingly unpopular with the very generations of young women who have benefited from it. At the same time it has raised a question which cultural and social theory is still struggling to answer – what is gender? Is it a social construct or a biological fact, or both, or neither? What does it mean to be a feminist today? Where does masculinity fit into all this? What are ‘performativity’ and ‘intersectionality’ when they’re at home? We will sort all this out in time to get to the pub before 9, honest…

Tuesday April 19th

Queer as Folk

Another huge cultural and political change of recent years has been the transformation in social attitudes towards same-sex relationships. It’s hard to believe now that both advocates and opponents of ‘gay liberation’ once thought that capitalism itself simply could not tolerate open same-sex relationships, and would be fatally undermined by any attempt to validate them. At the same time sexuality remains a highly charged political issue in many complex ways, and the broad field of ‘queer theory’ has been one of the most productive and contentious areas of cultural studies. 

Tuesday May 3rd

The Multitude, the Metropolis (and the Mayor)

Since around 2000, there’s been growing interest in the English-speaking world in a particular strain of radical Italian thought. This ‘autonomist’ tradition believes in the creative, dynamic capacities of workers of all kinds, from factory workers to software engineers, and wants to liberate the creative power of ‘the multitude’ from capitalist control. Thinkers such as Hardt & Negri and Lazzarato offer very interesting ways of thinking about the rise of the ‘creative economy’, about how social media platforms generate profits from our everyday communications, and about why cities are so often hotbeds of radicalism and innovation. Two days before the London Mayoral election, we’ll also think about what potential there might be for Londoners to take back our own city from the clutches of the oligarchs and the Corporation of London.

Tuesday May 17th  

Can you Feel it?

 Once upon a time, Cultural Studies was basically about looking at everything as if it were a language: fashion, advertising, music and journalism were understood as different ways in which people ‘make meanings’. A lot of cultural studies still is like that – it’s a very useful and productive way of looking at things. But what about those aspects of our lives which are not easy to translate into ‘meanings’?  What about feelings? What about the sounds of music, the colours of paintings, the physical thrill of watching a movie? These issues aren’t just important for thinking about art and music – they’re also crucial to understanding what motivates people politically and socially. We’ll  explore these issues and try to get inside one of the most difficult but rewarding bodies of 20th century theory: the ‘schizoanalysis’ of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

Tuesday May 31st 

How did we get here?  

How did we get into this mess? Rising inequality, climate catastrophe, miserable youth and a culture which can’t innovate: it’s hard to believe that until some time in the 80s, people actually believed the world was getting better.  Can Cultural Studies help us to understand how we got here? It can and it will.

In this session we’ll bring together many of the ideas from the previous weeks, and the previous term, to see how they can help answer this questions. We’ll be looking at some classic Cultural Studies text such as Sturt Hall et. al’s Policing the Crisis published in 1978 (which starts off analysing newspaper reports about muggings, and ends up basically predicting Thatcherism before anyone else could see it coming), and asking if culture in 2016 is still stuck in ‘the long 1990s’. 

Tuesday June 14th 

Where are we going?

What kind of world are we heading into, and who gets to decide? Will artificially-intelligent robots be our masters? Will we be cyborgs ourselves? Are we already? What will happen to us once Chinese workers start demanding decent wages for making all the stuff we buy? Can the planet tolerate the levels of consumption we’ve got used to? Will technology save us or destroy us.? Are we already experiencing ‘post-capitalism’?  Are we already ‘post-human’? All this and more will be revealed. 

Below is the course outline from part one of the Introduction to Cultural Studies course, including links to slides:

Course outline 2015

Session 1: Tuesday 29 September
‘Making Meaning: Introduction to Semiotics’

We make meaning from everything we see around us every day, but what informs our decisions about what ‘things’ mean? This session will introduce you to the work of the French Philologist Ferdinand de Saussure who gave us the tools to understand the role of ideology in how we make sense of everyday life.

Slides from this session – OSE Semiotics

Session 2: Tuesday 13 October
‘Workers of the World Unite: Marx for Beginners’

Karl Marx is famous for predicting a workers’ revolution in Britain and, as some politicians will gleefully tell you, for being wrong. But Marx wrote a lot of books and said a lot of things that are still startlingly relevant to how we think about the organisation of social life and the role of economics in determining how we think about ourselves. In this session, we’ll develop our understanding of ideology and think about the relationship between bodies, machines and going shopping (with a little help from Johnny Cash).

Slides from this session – OSE Marx

Session 3: Tuesday 27 October
‘Culture Consuming Itself?’

Why has consumption become so central to the cultures of capitalism? This session will apply key concepts from Marxism to a discussion of ideas of identity, taste and cultural meaning. Why do we define ourselves through our shopping choices? Can we ever achieve individuality? How does semiotics help us to understand culture as representation?

Slides from this session – OSE Consuming Culture

Session 4: Tuesday 3 November
‘Sometimes it’s Just a Cigar: The Surreal World of Sigmund Freud’

Sigmund Freud is another towering figure of the twentieth century who gets a bad press. But, like it or not, he gave us the language that we use when we speak about our personalities, early childhood development and mental health (he also provided PR and ad agencies with effective strategies for persuading us to, yes, go shopping). In this session, we’ll look at psychoanalysis as cultural theory; as a way of thinking about what we dream about, how we behave and how we learn to distinguish ourselves according to the roles we’re expected to play.

Slides from this session – OSE Freud

Session 5: Tuesday 17 November
‘Popular Interests: Antonio Gramsci and Hegemony’

Antonio Gramsci was the leader of the Italian Communist party after WW1 and spent a lot of time in prison. Happily for us, it gave him plenty of time to think. In this session we’ll study his theory of ‘hegemony’ which helps to explain why we consent to be governed by people that really don’t have our best interests at heart.

Slides from this session – OSE Gramsci (1)

Session 6: Saturday 21 November, 2-4pm
‘How to Get Interpellated: Louis Althusser (with Intro to Jacques Lacan)’

The French nearly had (another) revolution in 1968 but, ultimately, it failed. Louis Althusser was one of the post-’68 theorists who set himself the task of working out why people give in to authority, even when it would be better for them to not do so. We’ll be studying how he made use of the post-Freudian theory of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to explain why we all consider ourselves guilty until proven innocent.

Slides from this session – OSE Althusser

Session 7: Tuesday 24 November
‘Monsieur Foucault and the Prison of the Self’

Michel Foucault was another post-’68 theorist whose work has had wide ranging consequences for how we think about power and its effects on how we understand ourselves and others. This is the first of three sessions where we’ll explore his ideas and their relevance to contemporary culture. We’ll be examining the design of an eighteenth century prison and how it gives us a model for understanding why we think some things (and people) are ‘abnormal’.

Slides from this session – OSE Foucault

Session 8: Tuesday 8 December
‘Perverse Pleasures: Foucault and Sexuality’

One of the most important things that Foucault helps us to understand is that sexuality has a history. Although he disagreed with Marx about the way that power works, he had a similar interest in historical change and its effect on our private lives. In this session, we’ll examine how our attitudes to sexual practices are deeply entangled with the power afforded to certain institutions by vested economic and political interests.

Session 9: Tuesday 15 December (note this session is a week after the last one)
‘Racial Mythologies: Edward Said and Orientalism’

Foucault’s ideas have considerable implications for how we understand racism and its effects in contemporary culture. In this session, we’ll discuss the work of Edward Said who applied Foucault’s insights about history, language and self-identity to understanding how racial stereotypes come to be accepted as ‘truth’.

Slides from this session – OSE Said

Free Course – Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology and Power

Who has power in our cultures and how does it work? How do the ideas we have about what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ influence our decisions? What exactly is technology and how does it affect social change? Cultural Studies makes use of techniques from philosophy, history, sociology, human geography, anthropology, radical economics and political and critical theory to examine these questions in the context of contemporary popular cultures.

This course is an introduction to the subject taught by senior academics moonlighting from their day jobs at the University of East London. The course is free because we believe not only that education should be free but that knowledge is a crucial weapon in the war against all forms of inequality.

If you’ve never been to university, have been but miss the critical debates or are curious about who decides what counts as knowledge in the first place, we’d like to meet you.

There is no set reading (although we’ll recommend some if you’re interested) and no essay assignments, exams or deadlines (although we’ll set some if you want to challenge yourself). All the classes are interactive and give you the chance to think about everyday life in the context of the history of ideas. We’ll provide the learning environment. The rest is up to you.

The first part of the course was written and delivered by Dr Debra Benita Shaw and Dr Stephen Maddison.  You can see the outline of that course and find links to all the slides below.

The second part of the course is open to anyone, whether or not they attended the first part (it won’t be assumed that you necessarily did), and is written and delivered by Professor Jeremy Gilbert and Dr Stephen Maddison. Professor Tim Lawrence might pop in. 

Stephen, Debra,  Jeremy and Tim are co-directors of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research. For more information on the Centre and the University of East London click here

Jeremy is also the main organiser and main teacher of the Culture, Power and Politics series of seminars, which are another set of free open seminars, on very similar themes, hosted by the New Economics Foundation. Because there is so much overlap between the two sets of seminars, there won’t be any separate Culture, Power and Politics seminars this term. Attendees of the Culture, Power and Politics  seminars are encouraged to attend this course, and attendees of this course are encouraged to check out the recordings on the Culture, Power Politics website. Clear enough? Don’t worry – just turn up and you will be bound to learn something interesting. 

Here are the topics for part two of the course: 

Tuesday February 23 2016

We are all migrants

‘Some bunch of migrants’ is what David Cameron called the refugee inhabitants of the Calais ‘jungle’ when Jeremy Corbyn went to visit them. But migration and movement of people has shaped every aspect of our lives and culture, from the forced migrations of the slave trade to the take-away menus on our high street. With the EU referendum just around the corner, and anti-immigration feeling running high in the UK, what hope is there for a progressive cosmopolitan politics today? 

Tuesday March 8th 

Computer World  

‘Computer World’ is the title of Kraftwerk’s best album (yes it is). At just around the time they recorded it, economists, philosophers and social theorists were predicting that the ‘computerisation’ of society would change everything, creating a world of infinite information, without stable values, in which the very idea of being ‘modern’ would come to seem out of date.  Were they right? The technological changes of the past few decades have radically changed how capitalism works – but is it still fundamentally the same old system?

Tuesday March 15th  (NB this is only one week after the last session)

No Such Thing As ‘Society’

“There’s no such thing as society: only individuals (and their families)”. This was perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most notorious public pronouncement. It was also one of the few moments when she made explicit her commitment to the ideals and assumptions of ‘neoliberalism’: the individualistic political philosophy that has come to dominate our politics, our culture and our lives. 

After the 2008 crash, and the rise of Corbynism, we’re hearing a lot of discussion these days about the problems with neoliberal economics, which basically wants to privatise everything, drive down wages and cut taxes for the rich. We don’t hear so much about neoliberalism as a cultural ideology, promoting individualism, competition and greed in every area of life, from the nursery to the hospice. But without understanding this, we can’t understand how  ruling elites have got away with imposing such an unpopular programme for so long. 

We’ll have a think about this here – and take the opportunity to revise a bit of Marx, Gramsci and Foucault. 

Easter break 

Tuesday April 5th 

This is what a feminist looks like 

If historians of the future remember our era for anything, it is probably going to be the unprecedented revolution in the social status of women that we have lived through, and are living through.  But the movement which made that change possible is still derided and feared, often seemingly unpopular with the very generations of young women who have benefited from it. At the same time it has raised a question which cultural and social theory is still struggling to answer – what is gender? Is it a social construct or a biological fact, or both, or neither? What does it mean to be a feminist today? Where does masculinity fit into all this? What are ‘performativity’ and ‘intersectionality’ when they’re at home? We will sort all this out in time to get to the pub before 9, honest…

Tuesday April 19th

Queer as Folk

Another huge cultural and political change of recent years has been the transformation in social attitudes towards same-sex relationships. It’s hard to believe now that both advocates and opponents of ‘gay liberation’ once thought that capitalism itself simply could not tolerate open same-sex relationships, and would be fatally undermined by any attempt to validate them. At the same time sexuality remains a highly charged political issue in many complex ways, and the broad field of ‘queer theory’ has been one of the most productive and contentious areas of cultural studies. 

Tuesday May 3rd

The Multitude, the Metropolis (and the Mayor)

Since around 2000, there’s been growing interest in the English-speaking world in a particular strain of radical Italian thought. This ‘autonomist’ tradition believes in the creative, dynamic capacities of workers of all kinds, from factory workers to software engineers, and wants to liberate the creative power of ‘the multitude’ from capitalist control. Thinkers such as Hardt & Negri and Lazzarato offer very interesting ways of thinking about the rise of the ‘creative economy’, about how social media platforms generate profits from our everyday communications, and about why cities are so often hotbeds of radicalism and innovation. Two days before the London Mayoral election, we’ll also think about what potential there might be for Londoners to take back our own city from the clutches of the oligarchs and the Corporation of London.

Tuesday May 17th  

Can you Feel it?

 Once upon a time, Cultural Studies was basically about looking at everything as if it were a language: fashion, advertising, music and journalism were understood as different ways in which people ‘make meanings’. A lot of cultural studies still is like that – it’s a very useful and productive way of looking at things. But what about those aspects of our lives which are not easy to translate into ‘meanings’?  What about feelings? What about the sounds of music, the colours of paintings, the physical thrill of watching a movie? These issues aren’t just important for thinking about art and music – they’re also crucial to understanding what motivates people politically and socially. We’ll  explore these issues and try to get inside one of the most difficult but rewarding bodies of 20th century theory: the ‘schizoanalysis’ of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

Tuesday May 31st 

How did we get here?  

How did we get into this mess? Rising inequality, climate catastrophe, miserable youth and a culture which can’t innovate: it’s hard to believe that until some time in the 80s, people actually believed the world was getting better.  Can Cultural Studies help us to understand how we got here? It can and it will.

In this session we’ll bring together many of the ideas from the previous weeks, and the previous term, to see how they can help answer this questions. We’ll be looking at some classic Cultural Studies text such as Sturt Hall et. al’s Policing the Crisis published in 1978 (which starts off analysing newspaper reports about muggings, and ends up basically predicting Thatcherism before anyone else could see it coming), and asking if culture in 2016 is still stuck in ‘the long 1990s’. 

Tuesday June 14th 

Where are we going?

What kind of world are we heading into, and who gets to decide? Will artificially-intelligent robots be our masters? Will we be cyborgs ourselves? Are we already? What will happen to us once Chinese workers start demanding decent wages for making all the stuff we buy? Can the planet tolerate the levels of consumption we’ve got used to? Will technology save us or destroy us.? Are we already experiencing ‘post-capitalism’?  Are we already ‘post-human’? All this and more will be revealed. 

Below is the course outline from part one of the Introduction to Cultural Studies course, including links to slides:

Course outline 2015

Session 1: Tuesday 29 September
‘Making Meaning: Introduction to Semiotics’

We make meaning from everything we see around us every day, but what informs our decisions about what ‘things’ mean? This session will introduce you to the work of the French Philologist Ferdinand de Saussure who gave us the tools to understand the role of ideology in how we make sense of everyday life.

Slides from this session – OSE Semiotics

Session 2: Tuesday 13 October
‘Workers of the World Unite: Marx for Beginners’

Karl Marx is famous for predicting a workers’ revolution in Britain and, as some politicians will gleefully tell you, for being wrong. But Marx wrote a lot of books and said a lot of things that are still startlingly relevant to how we think about the organisation of social life and the role of economics in determining how we think about ourselves. In this session, we’ll develop our understanding of ideology and think about the relationship between bodies, machines and going shopping (with a little help from Johnny Cash).

Slides from this session – OSE Marx

Session 3: Tuesday 27 October
‘Culture Consuming Itself?’

Why has consumption become so central to the cultures of capitalism? This session will apply key concepts from Marxism to a discussion of ideas of identity, taste and cultural meaning. Why do we define ourselves through our shopping choices? Can we ever achieve individuality? How does semiotics help us to understand culture as representation?

Slides from this session – OSE Consuming Culture

Session 4: Tuesday 3 November
‘Sometimes it’s Just a Cigar: The Surreal World of Sigmund Freud’

Sigmund Freud is another towering figure of the twentieth century who gets a bad press. But, like it or not, he gave us the language that we use when we speak about our personalities, early childhood development and mental health (he also provided PR and ad agencies with effective strategies for persuading us to, yes, go shopping). In this session, we’ll look at psychoanalysis as cultural theory; as a way of thinking about what we dream about, how we behave and how we learn to distinguish ourselves according to the roles we’re expected to play.

Slides from this session – OSE Freud

Session 5: Tuesday 17 November
‘Popular Interests: Antonio Gramsci and Hegemony’

Antonio Gramsci was the leader of the Italian Communist party after WW1 and spent a lot of time in prison. Happily for us, it gave him plenty of time to think. In this session we’ll study his theory of ‘hegemony’ which helps to explain why we consent to be governed by people that really don’t have our best interests at heart.

Slides from this session – OSE Gramsci (1)

Session 6: Saturday 21 November, 2-4pm
‘How to Get Interpellated: Louis Althusser (with Intro to Jacques Lacan)’

The French nearly had (another) revolution in 1968 but, ultimately, it failed. Louis Althusser was one of the post-’68 theorists who set himself the task of working out why people give in to authority, even when it would be better for them to not do so. We’ll be studying how he made use of the post-Freudian theory of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to explain why we all consider ourselves guilty until proven innocent.

Slides from this session – OSE Althusser

Session 7: Tuesday 24 November
‘Monsieur Foucault and the Prison of the Self’

Michel Foucault was another post-’68 theorist whose work has had wide ranging consequences for how we think about power and its effects on how we understand ourselves and others. This is the first of three sessions where we’ll explore his ideas and their relevance to contemporary culture. We’ll be examining the design of an eighteenth century prison and how it gives us a model for understanding why we think some things (and people) are ‘abnormal’.

Slides from this session – OSE Foucault

Session 8: Tuesday 8 December
‘Perverse Pleasures: Foucault and Sexuality’

One of the most important things that Foucault helps us to understand is that sexuality has a history. Although he disagreed with Marx about the way that power works, he had a similar interest in historical change and its effect on our private lives. In this session, we’ll examine how our attitudes to sexual practices are deeply entangled with the power afforded to certain institutions by vested economic and political interests.

Session 9: Tuesday 15 December (note this session is a week after the last one)
‘Racial Mythologies: Edward Said and Orientalism’

Foucault’s ideas have considerable implications for how we understand racism and its effects in contemporary culture. In this session, we’ll discuss the work of Edward Said who applied Foucault’s insights about history, language and self-identity to understanding how racial stereotypes come to be accepted as ‘truth’.

Slides from this session – OSE Said