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Colloquium Series

In Fall 2009, the Center for Cultural Studies will continue to host a Wednesday colloquium series, which features current cultural studies work by campus faculty and visitors. The sessions are informal, normally consisting of a 30-40 minute presentation followed by discussion. We gather at noon, with presentations beginning at 12:15. Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunches; the Center will provide coffee, tea, and cookies.

Soraya Murray holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University in Art History and teaches at UCSC. She has published on contemporary art, technology, and globalization in Art Journal, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Professor Murray is completing a manuscript on bodies under the duress of advanced technologies and globalization and their visual representation in contemporary art and media culture.

This presentation investigates bodies under the duress of globalization and their representation in visual culture. Moving from Linda Nochlin’s consideration of the body in pieces as a metaphor for early modernity, it examines Homi Bhabha’s “becoming” and Saskia Sassen’s “analytic borderlands” as frameworks for understanding depictions of bodies—particularly women’s bodies—in the matrix of global flux.


Matthew Wolf-Meyer is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, having joined UCSC in 2009. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, specializing in medical anthropology and the social study of science and technology. He is currently working on a book, The Slumbering Masses: Integral Medicine and the Production of American Everyday Life, which focuses on sleep in American culture and its historical and contemporary relations to capitalism.

American sleep science has long participated in fantasies of sleep’s eradication. This paper examines how this desire for sleep science’s apotheosis depends on science-fictional conceptions of human biology and society’s reordering. American medicine deploys sleep as a site for intervention, remaking everyday human physiology in accordance with the rhythms of American capitalism and consumer demands.


Noah Wardrip-Fruin is author of Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (MIT, 2009), and has edited four books, including Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media with Pat Harrigan (MIT, 2007), and The New Media Reader with Nick Montfort (MIT, 2003). He is an Assistant Professor with the Expressive Intelligence Studio in the Department of Computer Science at UCSC.

Expressive Processing is the first volume in the new Software Studies series from MIT Press. Professor Wardrip-Fruin works to develop a software studies approach for digital media by interpreting the computational processes at work in digital fictions and games in a humanities mode. He looks at works experienced by audiences not just as media in the traditional sense, but also as the output of computational processes.


Stefania Pandolfo is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. Her books include Impasse of the Angels: Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory (Chicago, 1997) and The Knot of the Soul (forthcoming) on the experience of trauma and madness in the context of psychiatry and contemporary Islam.  Her anthropological work unfolds at the interface of psychoanalysis, critical theory, Islamic thought, and local healing traditions.

Based on conversations with a Moroccan Imam on the question of melancholy in a context of social and political dispossession, and on ethnographic work with a painter reflecting on form, delusion, and destruction, this paper addresses the imagination—affirmative and destructive—in terms of a specific Islamic vocabulary and tradition that is today mobilized for critique, and in dialogue with a psychoanalytic approach to the Real.


Juana María Rodríguez is Associate Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley and Director of the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.  She is the author of Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Space (NYU, 2003).  Her recent essays are included in The Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies (Blackwell, 2007); None of the Above: Puerto Ricans in the Global Era (Palgrave, 2007); MELUS (2009); and PMLA (2007).

This presentation, based on Sexual Subjects: Sexual Discourse and the Everyday Politics of Queer Cultural Life, focuses on the everyday lives of sexual subjects to consider the ways sex, sexual pleasure, and sexual practices are deployed in political projects that rethink forms of recognition and sociality. The book considers four distinct areas: intimate sexual practices, kinship relations, public cultures, and state deployments of sexual discourse.


Robin Archer is Director of the Graduate Program in Political Sociology at the London School of Economics. He was previously Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College at Oxford. His publications include the co-edited Out of Apathy: Voices of the New Left 30 Years On (Verso, 1989); Economic Democracy (Oxford, 1995); and the recent Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? (Princeton, 2008).

Why is there no labor party in the United States? Elsewhere these parties were established in the late 19th or early 20th century, and, ever since, this question has been at the heart of a major debate about the “exceptional” nature of American politics and society. Drawing on his recently published work, Professor Archer will show how a new comparative approach suggests some unexpected answers.


Miriam Greenberg is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCSC, with emphases in urban sociology, media studies, and social theory.  Her book Branding New York: How a City in Crisis was Sold to the World (Routledge, 2008) won the Robert Park Award for the best book in Urban Sociology in 2008-09.  She is developing a collaborative project, Crisis Cities, comparing the marketing of recovery in New York post-9/11 and post-Katrina New Orleans.

Professor Greenberg focuses on the social-spatial dynamics of crisis, with particular interest in the political economy and media framing of "crisis" and "recovery" in cities over the last forty years.  Her talk examines the recent turn in left circles, particularly since Obama's victory, to "progressive branding." She traces the emergence of this concept and points to some of its potential complications and contradictions.




October 7
Soraya Murray
Film and Digital Media, UCSC
Analytic Borderlands: Visualizations of Globality and the Body Becoming

October 14
Matthew Wolf-Meyer
Anthropology, UCSC

Octrober 21
Noah Wardrip-Fruin
Computer Science, UCSC
Expressive Processing

October 28
Stefania Pandolfo
Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Maladies of the Soul, Islam, and the Affirmative Imagination
Co-sponsored by the Psychoanalysis & Sexuality Research Cluster.

November 4
Juana María Rodríguez
Gender and Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Queer Domesticity and the Political Imaginary
Co-sponsored by the Queer Theory Research Cluster.

November 18
Robin Archer
Political Sociology, London School of Economics
American Exceptionalism and Labor Politics

December 2
Miriam Greenberg
Sociology, UCSC
Progressive Branding? An Examination of Marketing on (and of) the Left

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Last modified: December 10, 2008
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