Marxism and Cultural Studies conference

Many accounts of the emergence and development of Cultural Studies
accord a central place to Marxism, both as a body of knowledge and as
an important ideological component of the New Left. The rediscovery of
the writings of Antonio Gramsci, George Luckacs, Walter Benjamin, and
Theodor Adorno, among others, along with the formation of the
Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies, led to a general renaissance of
Marxist theory and cultural analysis, which in turn resulted in
ground-breaking studies of working class culture, the political role of
new social movements that were not class based, the power of ideology
and mass culture in sustaining existing social relations, and critical
analyses of state-authoritarianism. As Cultural Studies crossed the
Atlantic and gained an institutional foothold in the United States,
some have feared that its engagement with Marxism has been diluted
through an over emphasis on the subversive potentialities of mass media
and consumer capitalism.

The 2011 conference, “Marxism and Cultural Studies,” will explore the
role of Marxism in the field. Some questions that motivate this year’s
conference are: How do we understand the relationship between the base
and superstructure today? Does ideology critique still have an ongoing
usefulness? Do globalization and the world recession require new
objects of study? To what extent does Marxism provide a utopian impulse
for existing social movements? Do iterations of Cultural Studies in
South Asia, Africa, Central and Latin America, the Middle East, and
Eastern Europe retain a commitment to Marxism and how is this work
revitalizing the field more broadly? Does the Marxist imperative to
historicize challenge current paradigms of cultural analysis such as
the “New Formalism”? What exactly does a historical materialist
methodology enable? How do we articulate media analyses with questions
of political economy, geo-politics, and activism? What is the role of
the intellectual and Cultural Studies more generally?

Panelists will address some of these issues during three sessions:
“Marxism and Cultural Analysis,” “Marxism and Social Movements,” and
“Marxism and History.” Invited speakers include: Dianne Feeley (UAW
and Against the Current) Laura E. Lyons (University of Hawai’i), Ursula
McTaggart (Wilmington College), and Janet Sorensen (University of
California, Berkeley). S. Charusheela (University of Nevada) will
deliver the keynote address which will consider the “return” to Marx
and the political limitations of a too-easy embrace of economic
determinism for cultural analyses.
FRIDAY, April 1 (Ernie Pyle Auditorium, Room 220)
4:00-6:00 pm; Opening Keynote:
Delivered by S. Charusheela “Rethinking Marxism in Times of Turmoil”

SATURDAY, April 2 in the Faculty Club on the Second Floor of IMU
10:00 am-12:00pm; Panel I: Marxism and Cultural Analysis
1. Laura E. Lyons “‘I’d Like My Life Back’: BP, Corporate Personhood
and the Intimate Public Sphere”
2. Patrick Dove “Muddying the Waters: The Politics of Populism in
Peronist Argentina”
3. Lessie Frazier:”(Counter)Revolutionary Cultures”
Moderator: Nick Williams

1:00 pm-3:00 pm; Panel II: Marxism and Social Movements
(Faculty Club on the Second Floor of IMU)
1. Gardner Bovington “What’s class struggle got to do with it? Social
mobilization and framing”
2. Dianne Feeley “Building Feminist Consciousness in a Male Workplace.”
3. Jeff Gould “Marxism and Christian Base Communities: Notes from
Morazan, El Salvador”
Moderator: Micol Siegel

3:15 pm–5:15 pm; Panel III: Marxism and History
(Faculty Club on the Second Floor of IMU)
1. Janet Sorenson TBA
2. Ursula McTaggart “Change as Code for Black Radicalism: Barack Obama
and Right-Wing Charges of Socialism”
3. Matt Guterl “Class Passing and Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Globalization”
Moderator: Patrick Brantlinger


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