Music, Politics and Agency

20 May 2011

A one-day conference presented by: Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of East London, Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Media Industries Research Centre, University of Leeds

Can music change anything, or does its potency lie merely in its exemplary status as an organised human activity? What are the effects of power relations on music and to what extent is music itself a site at which power relations can be reinforced, challenged or subverted? What are the economic, affective, corporeal or ideological mechanisms through which these processes occur? Has the age of  recorded music as a potent social force now passed, a relic of the twentieth century; or with the music industry in crisis, is music culture in fact the first post-capitalist sector of the cultural economy, only now emerging from the long shadow of the culture industry? What historical or contemporary examples can we draw on to address some or all of these questions?

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Creaturely Lives: A Symposium in Animal Studies

25 May 2011

The University of Notre Dame’s London Centre

To mark the publication of Anat Pick’s Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (Columbia University Press, 2011), the Centre for Cultural Studies Research (CCSR) at the University of East London, and the University of Notre Dame in London are holding a symposium to discuss new developments within the field of animal studies.

Debates on animal ethics have been dominated by utilitarian and rights-based moral philosophy, seeking out the shared capacities of humans and animals as a gateway to the moral inclusion of nonhuman animals. Could the idea of creatureliness as the condition of vulnerability, the finitude of all living bodies, offer an alternative to these ethical models? Creatureliness has philosophical, religious, and artistic overtones; it features in the work of Walter Benjamin, in the mystical philosophy of Simone Weil, and resonates with recent developments in “vital materialist” thought. If creatureliness signals a properly universal condition rooted in the materiality and perishability of existence, might it also map out new horizons for theorizing (and living) a transhuman ethics? Point the way to new directions in literary and critical practice?

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