Monday, January 27, 2014

Making Worlds in 2014!

Greetings from the new year, all! The Cultural Studies Reading Group has resumed our discussion of "Making Worlds" with renewed gusto. Last week, we watched Jia Zhangke's 2004 film The World (stills included here), in conversation with Timothy Mitchell's article "The World as Exhibition." Our discussion ranged over many aspects of world-making, including the interrelated moral and aesthetic projects of worlding; economic precarity and contingency; spectacle, simulacrum and the world as picture or the world as object; and imaginaries/economies of scale as they highlight global positioning and metonymic forms of autonomy.

This very productive discussion will be, we think, further explored and complicated in our upcoming reading by Mimi Nguyen. Selected by CSRG member Kasim Husain, "The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror" will be discussed for our next meeting on February 5th (4:30-6:30pm in CNH 317). As usual, please feel free to comment or email us @ if you'd like a copy of the article. Stay tuned for what promises to be a generative meeting in February!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Next meeting: Ursula K. Heise's "Lost Dogs, Last Birds, and Listed Species: Cultures of Extinction"

At last week's meeting, the group decided to look at some terms and think about how we might frame or ground our discussions of "worlds." We read Jacques Derrida's "Globalization, Peace, Cosmopolitanism", in which he attempts to define "mondialisation" against what he reads as the more Eurocentric term "globalization," in conversation with Victor Li (U.Toronto)'s rejoinder, "Elliptical Interruptions: Why Derrida Prefers Mondialisation to Globalization." We read affirmatively and suspiciously, using a deconstructive reading mode to agree on the limits of theoretical debates about worlding in addition to the problems they allow us to identify. Thanks for a great discussion! Feel free to comment if you are interested in receiving copies of these readings.

Our next session will be on Wednesday, Dec. 4th at 4:30 in CNH 317. We will be discussing a piece by Ursula K. Heise, whose work at the intersection of contemporary environmental culture, literature and art in the Americas, Western Europe and Japan, theories of globalization, literature and science, and the digital humanities will allow us to take up worlding from yet another lens. The article, selected by Matt Zantingh, is titled "Lost Dogs, Last Birds, and Listed Species: Cultures of Extinction"; please send us an e-mail if you would like further information or a copy of the .pdf.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Next meeting: Priscilla Wald's "Imagined Immunities: The Epidemiology of Belonging"

At our first meeting of the Fall term, the CSRG kicked off this year's "Making Worlds" theme with a productive, exploratory discussion of Zizek's "Do We Still Live in a World?", available online here:

After this provocative start, our next session will be on Wednesday, Nov. 6th at 4:30 in CNH 317. We will be discussing "Imagined Immunities: The Epidemiology of Belonging," a chapter from Priscilla Wald's Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (2008). Bring snacks, questions, ideas! New members are always welcome. Please send us an e-mail if you would like further information or a copy of the .pdf.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2013-14 CSRG Theme: Making Worlds


This year, the CSRG will be pursuing readings that relate to the theme of "Making Worlds."

A rich stream of Marxian theory exposes what Zizek, following Badiou calls the “worldless” nature of capitalism as a global system. Not only does capital dissolve all pre-existing social conglomerates (Jameson), it must borrow from existing value structures to supply the narratives that “humanize” it as a mode of production (Boltanski and Chiapello), even while the constant imperative to growth ultimately undermines the particular “host” cultures to which it grafts (Zizek). In the grips of such a force, how do subjects struggle to articulate livable, human (or maybe post-human!) worlds? How do a multiplicity of worlds produce and respond to a field of uneven, global power relations? How do post-colonialism, globalism, and transnationalism factor? What is the role of virtuality, speculation, utopia and dystopia in the production and reproduction of worlds? How do we represent our relation to a natural world that appears increasingly precarious, and to a future that seems progressively uncertain? How do play and game theory, media, television and film figure into the construction of worlds?

The CSRG will be pursuing articles or chapter readings that relate to these topics. If you would like to come to one or more meetings (people tend to come and go as one's schedule allows), or if you can suggest a reading that would fit well with the above theme please drop us a line. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview with Rosi Braidotti

The next meeting of the Cultural Studies Reading Group will be on Thursday, March 28 at 4:30 in CNH 332. We will be talking about an interview with the feminist and posthumanist philosopher Rosi Braidotti that recently appeared in New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies.

New members are always welcome! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cultural Studies in the Future Tense

At our first meeting of 2013, the CSRG discussed a short paper by J.K. Gibson-Graham, "The Violence of Development: Two Political Imaginaries" (2004).

After this excellent start, our next session will be on Thursday, Feb. 14th at 4:30 in CNH 307. We will be discussing Chapter Six, "In Search of Modernities," in Lawrence Grossberg's book Cultural Studies in the Future Tense (2010). Bring snacks! Bring your Valentine date! New members are always welcome. Please send us an e-mail if you would like further information.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, "Vermin Beings"

For our next meeting of the Cultural Studies Reading Group (Thurs. Nov. 15 @ 4:30, CNH 332), Jesse Arseneault has suggested we read "Vermin Beings: On Pestiferous Animals and Human Game" by Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga from Social Text vol.29, no.1 (Spring 2011). This article looks at what happens when human beings are treated as if they were vermin to be hunted down and annihilated.  As stated in the abstract, this article examines,

African resistance against colonial settler rule between 1890 and 1980 as pestiferous mobility and the state response as pesticide(the theory, technology, and practice of pest control). Designated as vermin (terrorists), African guerrillas fighting for independence were subjected to weapons that had been used against wild animals, such as poisons. The article ends with a reminder that the designation and treatment of people as vermin beings has outlasted the birth of an independent Zimbabwean state.

The CSRG is meeting every other Thursday during the fall semester, at which time we discuss readings that present diverse strategies and topics investigating the political dimensions of culture. New members are always welcome. We has a habit of heading to the local pub for drinks and conversation after meetings. Please drop us a line if you would like a copy of the readings, or if you would like to be put on the regular mailing list for the CSRG.