The Institute of Macedonian Literature at the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje and The Cultural Studies in Literature at the same institution are pleased to announce
The International Scientific Conference
“Popular Culture: Reading From Below”
November, 3-4, 2014
Organising Committee: Maja Jakimovska-Toshich, Ana Martinoska, Sonja Stojmenska-Elzeser, Aleksandar Prokopiev, Darin Angelovski and Sarita Trajanova.
The Conference “Popular Culture: Reading From Below” is dedicated to the fifty years jubilee of the establishment of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK (1964-2014). Representatives of this Centre are considered the founders of cultural studies in the world, and their legacy and influence is present within the Cultural Studies in Literature at the Institute of Macedonian Literature at the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius “in Skopje. Even with the pioneering role of this Centre and the work of Richard Hogarth, Stuart Hall and others, they refused any identification of their work with the idea of a distinctive school of thought and they believed that “Cultural studies always was a set of unstable formations. It was “centered” only in quotation marks, in a particular kind of way which I want to define in a moment. It had many trajectories; many people had and have different trajectories through it; it was constructed by a number of different methodologies and theoretical positions, all of them in contention.” (Hall). Therefore, this conference is not proposed as a remembrance of the history of the discipline or as a discussion on its research results, but rather the anniversary is just a cause of continuous interdisciplinary research of some of the topics they set off. Above all it is aimed at various theoretical and applicative articulations of the contemporary cultural context, both locally and globally.
The selection of the conference topic is consistent with the persistence of the Birmingham Centre for the study of popular culture as its central preoccupation, with respect to all the different definitions of the term, as well as the complex combinations of meanings covered. Thus the emphasis is on the cultural practices and structures of domination that they unravel, inseparable from the social, political and ideological context of culture. Given the fact that cultural studies as an important intellectual and critical practice are always engaged and positioned from below and from the margins, the idea of this conference aims to challenge popular culture as a field of power relations involving centres and periphery, status hierarchy, relations to norms that impose repression and marginalization. It also aspires to analyze and criticize the cultural production and create new links between different cultural forms in everyday life.
If one of the tasks of cultural studies is to analyze and assess the values of culture understood as an overall way of life, material, intellectual and spiritual (Williams), having in mind various socially articulated lifestyles, mechanisms of injustice and privileges, dominant and subordinate classes or interest groups, subsequently it becomes obvious that each of them has its own way of meanings, values and ideas, each has its own beliefs, customs and habits, its texts and practices of meaning. Hence, culture is not perceived as unique, but it is elite and popular, high and low, which indicates the dynamics of social power and its’ different schedule, so the question of determining the value should be considered in this context. In accordance with these remarks the following possible paper topics are suggested (but not limited to):
- The question of value of culture – Criteria/Arguments for assessing the value of culture; Absolute and universal values versus subjective criticism; The value of elite versus popular and high culture; Popular culture as an arena of hegemony; Authenticity of popular culture versus industry and profits; The canon of popular culture and its change over generations; Should the division of elite and popular culture be replaced by the division of high quality and low quality popular culture?
- Popular culture as a culture of mass society – Interpretation of various forms of popular culture; Consumerism and production of entertainment; Culture as a market product for mass consumption; Economic aspects of pop culture; Ideology of mass culture; Hierarchy, taste and kitsch; Hybrid forms and means of resistance through rituals (subculture); Turnover of a historically tacit moments; Cliché as a tool of hegemony; The concept of an active audience; Mass media and digital/cyber culture; Cultural industries.
- Popular culture as a venue of resistance – Popular culture and feminism; Popular culture and postmodernism; Popular culture and new elitism; Popular culture versus political and ideological concepts; Popular culture in pedagogical practices (democratization of academic forms); Dictionary of popular culture etc.
Conference official languages: English and Macedonian language (with translation in English provided by the author him/herself).
Call for Papers – 20 February 2014
Deadline for paper proposals – 15 May 2014
Notification date – 20 July 2014
Regular Fee – 40 Euros;
Reduced Fee for Students/Unemployed – 20 Euros.
(Note: The funds will be used for publication of materials for the conference (conference program and book of abstracts) and the Proceedings of the conference papers, as well as for opening cocktail, coffee and refreshments during breaks etc.)
The Organisation Committee will provide further information about the conference location, the accommodation of participants, as well as propositions for publication of papers in the Proceedings additionally.
Contact: Darin Angelovski and Sarita Trajanova