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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Emily S. Lee "The Epistemology of the Question of Authenticity, in Place of Strategic Essentialism"

For the next session of the Cultural Studies Reading Group (Thurs. Nov. 1), Marquita Smith has suggested that we read Emily S. Lee's article on authenticity from Hypatia Vol. 26, no.2 (Spring 2011). The abstract to this article reads:

The question of authenticity centers in the lives of women of color to invite and restrict their representative roles. For this reason, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Uma Narayan advocate responding with strategic essentialism. This paper argues against such a strategy and proposes an epistemic understanding of the question of authenticity. The question stems from a kernel of truth—the connection between experience and knowledge. But a coherence theory of knowledge better captures the sociality and the holism of experience and knowledge.

We hope you can join us at the usual time (4:30) in the usual place (CNH 332) to discuss this article. Please contact us if you have any questions about this or future sessions, or if you are wondering how to find a copy of these or other readings. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Michel Foucault "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History"

"And you might say to yourself: well, how did I get here?" Suspicious of origin myths? Ever wondered about the difference between genealogy and history? Looking to discuss diverse and influential writings on the political dimensions of culture? On Thursday, Oct. 18 at 4:30 pm in CNH 230, the Cultural Studies Reading Group will be meeting to discuss Foucault's essay "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History." New participants are always welcome. Please contact if you have any questions or would like to know where to find a copy of this or future readings. Thanks to CSRG member Ben Prus for suggesting this reading selection.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Arjun Appadurai's "Global Ethnoscapes"

For our next session (Thursday, Oct. 4 @ 4:30 in CNH 332), Sarah D'Adamo has suggested we read Arjun Appadurai's "Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology" which is the third chapter from his book Modernity at Large (1996). As Sarah notes:

This chapter poses interesting questions about how deterritorialization shapes our imaginative capacity for exploring cultural frameworks and theory in an era of globalization. It also explores the concept of "-scape" as cultural arena, providing an alternative to the center-periphery model.

We very much hope you can be there to discuss this important essay!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Judith Butler's "Merely Cultural"

The CSRG will meet on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4:30 in CNH 332. We will be discussing Judith Butler's essay "Merely Cultural" [Social Text. 52.3 (Fall/Winter) 1997]. In this important essay, Butler responds to critiques of leftist politics that reduce issues of identity and sexuality to the "merely cultural" realm. Butler moves from examining several forms that this reductive move takes, to arguing for the centrality of categories such as gender to the reproduction of the dominant social relations of capitalism.

Please join us for a collegial discussion of this essay, where we might investigate such issues as the continued relevance of Butler's argument to our contemporary political and cultural situation. How have ideas about identity, culture and politics developed in the fifteen years since this essay was published, and what have been the transformations or afterlives of the tensions Butler describes and addresses? We will also be circulating a sign-up sheet for those interested in nominating texts and leading discussions for future reading group meetings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reading Group Resumes, New Members Welcome!

The first meeting of the CSRG will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 4:30 in CNH 317. There are no readings for this meeting. Instead, we will surveying people's interests to discuss possible reading selections for coming months as well as convenient meeting times. Please come out to meet new and old members of the group. We look forward to seeing you!

Now entering its fourth year of existence, the Cultural Studies Reading Group in McMaster's Department of English and Cultural Studies will be resuming its activities this month after a brief summer hiatus. As a glance through our older posts will reveal, the CSRG has read and discussed a wide range of topics, from media and film studies to post-humanism and science studies. We have pursued a survey of several prominent journals in the field, and we have looked at anthologies such as Paul Smith's The Renewal of Cultural Studies, and the compilation The Idea of Communism. Please drop us a line at if you would like notification regarding meeting times, or stay tuned to this blog for more information and updates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cruel Optimism in the Summer

This Summer, the CSRG will be meeting every second Wednesday in CNH 332 to read through Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism (Duke UP, 2006). Berlant's book examines a variety of textual sites, from literature, film and art to family life and body image, to examine the ways people remain attached to post World War II visions of "the good life" even in the midst of the widespread dissolution of this fantasy. Combining affect and queer theory with Marxian analysis, and delivered with Berlant's equally poetic and rigorous style of academic prose, this summer's readings promise a venue in which to explore the structures of feeling that emerge as contemporary situations coalesce into new generic forms.
“A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing.”
The Cultural Studies Reading Group meets during the summer every second Wednesday, starting June 14, in CNH 332 at McMaster University. Newcomers are always welcome. Please e-mail us for further details.

*Check out Lauren Berlant's blog, Supervalent Thought.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Angela McRobbie

In preparation for Angela McRobbie's visit next week, the Cultural Studies Reading Group will be meeting this Monday, Feb 6 at 4:30 in CNH 332 to discuss her 2010 article "Reflections on Feminism, Immaterial Labour and the Post-Fordist Regime" (New Formations, Vol 70). Please join us if you have the time and inclination.

On Monday the 13th we will return to our readings from Paul Smith's collection The Renewal of Cultural Studies.

McRobbie Poster enlarge