First Annual Cultural Studies Graduate Student Conference at the University of New Mexico
April 24-25, 2009
Fantastic Projections: Crisis, History and the Aesthetic Imagination
Crisis situations and the ways we respond to them shape our perception of reality. For example, Reed Johnson opens his recent essay in the Los Angeles Times with the observation: “We shopped. Then we dropped. Then we started making culture again—dancing on the rubble of our own excesses, stitching together art from the ragbag of our desires.” In this case, culture emerges in response to financial crisis, as a way of imaginatively – and aesthetically – dealing with post-bust trauma. But just what does this “ragbag” consist of, and what role do our desires play in the negotiation of crises and the creation of history in the realm of the aesthetic imagination?
We are seeking contributions that investigate past and present aesthetic negotiations of crisis situations expressed in literature, the arts, film, or public debates.
Leading questions are: How have past times of crisis formed and informed cultural production? How has cultural production created history in response to crises? Can we still mobilize the emphatic belief in the power of aesthetic experience as a way to freedom, shared by philosophers and writers of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Age? Is the kind of broad social critique articulated in the grand récit still possible? Do current forms of cultural production resonate with, for instance, Brechtian attempts to render reality in a “form that it can be mastered”? To what degree does the analytical power of art, the possibility to “make us see, perceive and feel that which alludes reality” (Althusser) inform recent cultural production?
Possible session topics include but are not limited to:
• Aesthetics, Politics and Freedom: (Dis-)Utopian Visions
• The Role of Aesthetic Experience and Imagination in Negotiating and Dealing with Crises
• Political Debate Today: From a Politics of Power to the Aesthetics of Hope
• Fantastic Projections: Cultural Production and Reproduction in Film and New Media
• The Aesthetics of Pop-Culture: Who is the current Superhero?
From Mr. Big to the Dark Knight
• Imagining History: Mobilizing Tradition or Seeking Innovation
• Imagining the Self: Imagination and Identity Formation in the Arts
Limited travel funding is available, please inquire!
Please send a 500 word abstract along with a brief biographical statement to Anna Angeli (firstname.lastname@example.org), Eric Foster (email@example.com), or David Hartwig (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 23, 2009. You can also visit our webpage for additional information about the conference: http://www.unm.edu/~fll/grad-conference.htm (coming soon)