Category Archives: Forthcoming Events

Culture, Power, Politics Autum 2019

What is the connection between culture and power? How do the ideas we have about what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ influence our decisions? How did Brexit happen? What is gender? Cultural theory makes use of techniques from philosophy, history, sociology, human geography, anthropology and political and critical theory to examine these questions in the context of contemporary popular cultures. 

This first part of the course is an introduction to the subject. 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. 

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.

All sessions are on Wednesday evenings between 6.30 and 8.30pm beginning 16th October for nine weeks. 

This first part of the course is written and delivered by Debra Benita Shaw and Helen Palmer and part two is a series of more advanced seminars organised by Jeremy Gilbert with guest speakers. Debra and Jeremy are directors of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London

Ridley Road Market Bar, 49 Ridley Road, Dalston, London, E8 2NP

Course outline

Session One October 16th
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.
Session Two October 23rd 
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 many of Marx’s ideas are still startlingly relevant to how we think about the organisation of society and the role of the economy in determining our lives. In this session, we’ll develop our understanding of capitalism and think about the relationship between bodies, machines and work.
Session Three October 30th
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.
Session Four November 6th

Monsieur Foucault and the Prison of the Self
Michel Foucault was a French theorist whose work has had wide ranging consequences for how we think about power and its effects on how we understand ourselves and others. 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’.
Session Five November 13th
Queer: Bodies, Words and Worlds Queer: a noun, a verb and an adjective. What does it mean to queer something? We will look at the idea of queerness as continual transformation, from pop artists to performers to philosophers, and the ways in which this concept carries political power. We will look at some queer writers and theorists such as Audre Lorde and Sara Ahmed, and the ways that their words give us fresh perspectives on gender, race, class, location and orientation.
Session Six November 20th 
Does Matter Matter, or What’s New About New Materialism? From ancient to contemporary times, humans have always pondered the stuff that makes up the world. This session will be a rapid tour through different understandings of ‘material’, from ancient atomism to Cartesian substance dualism to Marxist historical materialism to contemporary feminist new materialism and the materiality of language itself.
Session Seven November 27th Racial Mythologies: Edward Said and Orientalism This week, we’ll return to Michel Foucault’s ideas and discuss their considerable implications for how we understand racism and its effects in contemporary culture. We’ll be examining 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’.
Session Eight December 4th Inventing Gender This week we’ll be looking more closely at ideas that have had an influence on how we identify people based on their gender. We’ll take a brief tour through the world according to Sigmund Freud, look at how Charles Darwin gave scientific authority to the assumption that women are stupid and begin to explore feminist challenges to these ideas.
Session Nine December 11th What’s Sex Got to Do With It? The current decade has exposed the widespread abuse of women’s bodies in public life alongside a resurgence of interest in feminism and demands for equality in the labour market. But is ‘equality’ enough? What does it even mean? In this final session we will examine the radical politics of gender dissent and why all forms of sexuality are political.

In the City: A Seminar Series on Urban Life, Art, Culture and Politics

Presented by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research & the School for Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London

All seminars 18:00-20:00 

Room US.1.01 

University Square Stratford, 1 Salway Road, Stratford, London E15 1NF

All free, All welcome, no advance booking required

Directions and Map: http://www.universitysquarestratford.ac.uk/find-us.htm

Next Seminar: November 6th 

The Municipal Commons: Urban governance and the idea of community

After nearly a decade of austerity-led neglect, many local urban communities are struggling to cope with the erosion of important services that help to bring them together. Amid all the gloom, however, there are a few encouraging signs on the horizon. Local authorities like Preston and Newham have engaged with the concept of community wealth building and its aim to produce inclusive and seemingly democratic local economies [1]. Similarly, while under economic pressure to grow student numbers and become global players, universities are also being asked to consider how their research can engage with, and impact on, the places in which they are located [2]. Certainly, in contrast to the metrics intended to gauge the global reach of academic work, these institutions need to further consider their connection to the local community.

This seminar in the CCSR series, In the City, sets out to explore how various ideas of urban community might relate to, or can become realized in, initiatives like community wealth building and the truly civic university. It also asks what kind of role so-called anchor institutions, like the university, might play in revitalizing post-austerity local communities.

Programme

Carys Hughes (UEL) on left governmentality and participatory governance (tbc)

Julian Manley (UCLan) on community and co-operative wealth building: from top-down to rhizomatic-up!

Paul Watt (Birkbeck) on urban community 

Keir Milburn (Leicester) on ‘Public-Commons Partnerships’ 

Tony Sampson (UEL, CERG) introduction and chair

Followed by Q&A and discussion

All seminars 18:00-20:00. Venue: University Square Stratford, 1 Salway Road, Stratford, London E15 1NF. Room US.1.01. All free, all welcome, no advance booking required. Directions and Map: 

For further information please email t.d.sampson@uel.ac.uk

[1] See CLES on community wealth building. https://cles.org.uk/tag/community-wealth-building/

[2] See UPP Foundation report Truly Civic: Strengthening the connection between universities and their placeshttps://upp-foundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Civic-University-Commission-Final-Report.pdf

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Seminar 3  December 4th

The Participative City: Democracy, Participation and the Right to the City 

Anna Minton (UEL) on resisting the neoliberalisation of the city. 

Alessio Kolioulis (Engagée journal ) on radical cities and the democratisation of nightlife culture

Jessica Adams (UEL) on participatory art

Jeremy Gilbert (UEL) on radical democracy and the right to the city 

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Previous seminars in this series:

Seminar 1 October 9th 

Living For the City: Imagining, inhabiting and creating in urban (and suburban) space

Speakers

Andrew Branch (UEL)

Suburban reverie Social (im)mobility and resisting acts of domination 

Tim Lawrence (UEL)

Dancing in the city: Legacies of the 1970s and early 1980s

Blake Morris (Walk Exchange www.walkexchange.org)

A Wander is not a Slog: Walking Together at a Distance

Clare Qualmann (UEL)

East End Jam, walking, foraging, picking and preserving the city

Debra Shaw (UEL)

Monsters in the Metropolis

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

Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology & Power Free Course at Open School East

Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology & Power – Free Course at Open School East

Taking place over 9 Tuesdays, 6.30-8.30pm (check schedule below for exact dates)

Click HERE for location
29 September – 15 December 2015

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 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 course is written and delivered by Dr Debra Benita Shaw and Dr Stephen Maddison, Co-Directors of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research. For more information on the Centre and the University of East London click here.

Course outline

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.

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).

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?

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.

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.

Session 6: date TBC (this session will be set on a Saturday)
‘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.

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’.

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’.

Culture, Power and Politics: An Open Seminar

 

Culture, Power and Politics  is a regular open seminar on…culture, power and politics. It is convened by Jeremy Gilbert of CCSR.

What will it do?

It mainly explores ideas from the traditions of cultural studies and radical theory, considering their relevance to understanding contemporary political issues, struggles and campaigns, as well as key themes in political history.

Who is it for?

Ideally, it’s for anyone who is interested. The idea for the seminar has come out of discussions amongst members of the New Economy Organisers’ Network and Compass. Our hope on launching the series in May 2015 is that the seminars will be useful and relevant both to political activists and organisers and to others simply interested in exploring the ideas.

We also hope that they will work for people who have no prior knowledge of the subjects and for those who may be world-class experts, and everyone in between. If you don’t know anything about  these subjects then feel free to come and find out. If you’re an expert – then come and join in the discussions to help others learn and to deepen your own understanding through conversation with others. We believe that all learning is collective!

For more details click HERE