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Critical Themes 2012



The first night of the Critical Themes conference was a success! Thank you everyone who attended last night’s activities. Jack Bratich showed us the power and limitations of memes, explaining how the occupy movement itself has become a meme generator. During his presentation Bratich struggled to find examples of original New School memes, I guess no one told him about labbums. Marco Deseriis made a case of the democratizing power of the human microphone. And Not an Alternative challenged our notions of spaces – public, private, and political.

Jodi Dean gave a engaging presentation arguing for an acceptance of diagonal and vertical structures in Occupy Wall Street and that some of these structures might already currently exist. Afterward there was a dynamic question and answer session in the crowd, with a few agreements and one or two disagreements. It all made for a riveting first night with much to think about while we prepare for Saturday morning. Panels begin at 10:45 sharp!

During our lunch break we are thrilled to have Robert Oxford form the Occupy Student Debt campaign who will be giving a presentation about the state of the student debt crisis in Lang courtyard starting at 1pm. This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about this crisis and how you can be involved in preventing the next financial crisis.

Tomorrow night we will welcome Navid Hassanpour who will be giving a closing keynote address titled “Reverse Panopticons: Occupy and the Unintentional Politics of New Media” at 7pm in Wollman Hall. We will see you there!

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Tomorrow great thinkers from all over the planet will descend on The New School to share their ideas, passions and opinions about the state of Media Studies today. The panels have been finalized and you can start planning which presentations to attend. Please look under the sessions tab to find more information about our panels and presentations taking place on Saturday.

Just a reminder to all that the conference is FREE and open to the public. There is no registration necessary. We understand if you want to share your attendance with the world, so we have created a facebook page so you can impress your friends with your savvy weekend plans.

The New School has been a fantastic incubator of progressive ideas for 93 years. The past year has been no exception. With Occupy Wall Street establishing a new center of gravity just blocks from our campus, there has been a wide spectrum of engagement with the movement – from direct involvement at Zuccotti Park and beyond to teach-ins to scholarly commentary to classroom activity – and for a brief time, the university even housed an occupation.

In an open call in November 2011, a group of faculty members invited students to submit work exploring the implications of creating a living archive of OWS. This call resulted in a collaborative effort among faculty and students to organize an exhibition and a web archive that would encourage continued interchange at the university. While the #searchunderoccupy exhibition was housed in our very own Aronson Gallery throughout March, the website lives on as a growing online archive. The website will be showcasing artistic, academic and political work and initiatives of the whole New School community, now and in the future. In light of the topics to be discussed this weekend, it might be worth checking out:

See you tomorrow!

-Critical Themes


Welcome to the website for the 12th annual Critical Themes in Media Studies conference! The conference will be taking place April 13th and 14th, at The New School in New York City. We are pleased to be hosting two amazing keynote presenters, Jodi Dean from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Navid Hassanpour from Yale University. We are also excited to have our very own Marco Deseriis host a fascinating opening night panel discussion entitled “Occupy as Medium”! And of course no conference would be complete without our esteemed student presenters who have worked long and hard to present papers that will incite, inspire and engage all of us.

Since the initial conference in 2000, Critical Themes has grown into a leading forum for showcasing research papers from graduate students pushing the boundaries of academic research. This year the conference continues this trend as it welcomes student scholars from twenty three universities spanning four countries.

You can also follow along on twitter. We will be tweeting regular announcements from our@criticalthemes account, and any tweets to @criticalthemes or referencing the #criticalthemes hashtag will be pulled in to the sidebar at the right-hand side (as well as archived here on our site for future reference).

We are currently in the process of finalizing our panel groupings. As we do that, we will enable comments on those and we hope to spark some exciting discussions here on the site, in advance of, during, and after the actual event! As I write this, many details are still being sorted out, so please check back here for updates as they materialize.

See you at Critical Themes!
The Critical Themes Organizing Committee