A sizeable crowd gathered on 21 October 2015 on the Cathedral of Learning's fourth floor to be regaled with food, beverages, and a stimulating Inaugural Lecture from the groundbreaking team of Jonathan Arac and Colin MacCabe, who will be teaching the CLST Common Seminar in Spring 2016, based on their in-progress update (for Oxford University Press) of a masterwork of Cultural Studies, Raymond Williams' 1976 Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Skyping in live from London, Professor MacCabe drew upon his experiences of working with Williams to introduce the Common Seminar's organizing theme of keywords--what they are, and what they are not, and what students might expect of a class devoted to finishing up a decade-long project with ten keywords essays as yet unassigned to contributors, and being held in reserve for students enrolling in the class (he also invited students to propose their own candidates for keywords). Professor Arac followed with a wide-ranging discussion of the aftermath of keywords, and how the concept has played through a wide array of recent works across disciplines by way of providing examples of how keywords could fit in with Common Seminarists' individual ongoing research projects. (For more on the course, click here).
Three former recent awardees of the Cultural Studies Fellowship were on hand to provide responses to the speakers' presentation. Henry Skerritt (HAA), whose dissertation concerns indigenous artists' uses of history, pondered whether "indigenous" might be an emerging keyword, especially among Australian Aboriginal peoples among whom he has worked. Mohammad Mozumder (SOC) drew from his work on body discipline and nonconformist subjectivities among the current-day Bangladeshi followers of Fakir Lalon Shah, to speculate on the meanings of "habitudes," as yet another emergent keyword. Finally, Olga Blackledge (COMMRC), whose dissertation is a comparative study of Nazi and Soviet Disney-style animation, asked how in the future the keywords concept might play beyond its recent Anglo-American institutional formation. After careful and well-considered from the speakers, a lively discussion with the audience followed.
The Keywords Spring 2016 Common Seminar will run Wednesday evenings in room 402 (Library Room), 6-9 P.M. Students can register for it in two ways: by enrolling in CLST 2050 Common Seminar or in ENGLIT 2135.