Past Themes and Calls for Research Proposals

Past Research Themes

2013-2014 
Cultures of Risk: Chance and Precarity
 

The American Communities Program invites you to participate in deepening our understanding of American identities, cultures, and communities with the announcement of the 2013-2014 fellowship theme: “Cultures of Risk:  Chance and Precarity.”  The theme is founded on the idea that any culture is inherently precarious, defined by risk-taking and dynamics of emergence, tension, and decline.  Recent critical attention has focused on the ways that such precarity is intensifying, whether in the increasingly contingent dynamics of the workforce, the financialization of everyday life, the fragmentation and unpredictability of our increasingly mediated experience, and other new regimes of uncertainty, dispossession, and instability.  As Judith Butler wrote, to understand precarity means recognizing that “there are others out there on whom my life depends, people I do not know and may never know.”  How might that recognition shape our cultural practice and open up new potentials and forms of life?   
Tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA are welcome to submit proposals for humanities-based inquiry addressing topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  • How has precarity been represented or expressed aesthetically?  What roles can contingency and experimentation play in creative contexts?  What other practices – gambling, games, play – can be understood as exploiting precarity?
  • How is contemporary experience defined by logics of investment, fluctuation, boom and bust, the abstraction of value, and other forms of the financialization of life?
  • What is the philosophical value of the aleatory, the nugatory, and the accidental?
  • How has the crisis of the nation-state generated emergent forms of political insecurity and exposure, as well as new possibilities for connection (social movements, revolts and resistance) in a fragmented or deterritorialized world?  How do increasingly mobile flows of capital, information, and population confront and exploit these conditions?
  • How are vulnerability and risk distributed regionally and globally?   
  • In what ways has “postmodernity” reconceptualized the future in light of new configurations of space and time?  What are the consequences of transience and impermanence?
  • How does precarity reflect the history and consequences of neoliberalism?  How might it serve the logic of “disaster capitalism”?
  • To what extent has the immateriality of contemporary experience undermined traditional affective relationships?  What varieties of emotional and mental “pathology” reflect this condition?  What liberatory prospects might these conditions also harbor?
 
2012-2013 
Being in Common
 

The 2012-2013 fellowship theme, “Being in Common,” is designed to deepen our understanding of the construction and perpetuation of American identities, cultures, and communities. In particular, this year’s theme responds to recent scholarly and critical interest in theories of “the commons” and of the central importance of shared resources, collective action, and the recognition of human interdependencies, especially in a global world of immaterial production and other intangible forms of human relationship. We are interested in exploring the creative practices and forms that express and manifest the commons, as well as the scholarly discourses that increasingly imagine life as fundamentally shared with others.

Tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA are welcome to submit proposals for humanities-based inquiry responding to questions including, but not limited to, the following:

  • What emergent structures – networks of information and knowledge, linguistic and communicative practices, social movements, patterns of production and consumption, and so forth – express or enable life shared with others?
  • What specific aesthetic forms and creative possibilities are enabled by collaboration?  How are current trends toward collective production transforming creative practices?
  • What is the explanatory value of philosophies of the commons – theories of being as being-with?
  • What conditions have enabled historical and contemporary communities to discover and intensify their common foundations?  What economic, political, and biopolitical potentials are thereby made available?  What historical precedents are meaningful for understanding the commons?
  • How does the idea of life as fundamentally shared demand a reconsideration of modern notions such as those of the individual, property, privacy, and the nation-state?  What does “American community” mean in this emergent context?
  • What intersections between scholarly knowledge, cultural performance, and civic engagement contribute to the contemporary commons? 
  • What pedagogical interventions or innovations contribute to the study of such American communities and identities?

 

2011-2012 
Utopic/Dystopic Imaginings
 

The 2011-2012 fellowship theme, “Utopic/Dystopic Imaginings,” is designed to initiate conversations and research that deepen our understanding of the construction and perpetuation of American identities, cultures, and communities. We are interested in investigations of the forms, practices, and discourses that facilitate the imagining of utopian and dystopian potentials and possibilities. We invite proposals from tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA that discuss historical and/or contemporary manifestations of issues including, but not limited to, the following:

·         What are the rhetorics and aesthetics of utopic/dystopic imaginings? What are the conventions, structures, and texts through which such conceptualizations are represented and/or performed?

·         How are communities, their inhabitants, and their geographies performed and endowed with meaning, whether idealized or degraded?

·         What conditions have enabled historical and contemporary communities to emerge, evolve, and/or disintegrate? What are the repercussions of these transformations for subjectivity and lived experience?

·         How are fantasies of Americanness produced and/or challenged from outside the US?

·         How do the global realities of a particular historical moment impact the construction of utopic/dystopic national imaginaries?

·         How and to what ends do new media change our notions and/or representation of idealized or pathologized communities?

·         What intersections between scholarly knowledge, cultural performance, and civic engagement contribute to utopic/dystopic imaginings? 

·         What pedagogical interventions or innovations contribute to the study of such American communities and identities?

 

 

2010-2011 
Sustainability and Sustaining Communities
 

The 2010-2011 fellowship theme is designed to initiate conversations and research that deepen our understanding of the construction, perpetuation, and sustainability of American communities. We invite proposals from tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA that discuss historical and/or contemporary manifestations of issues including, but not limited to, the following:

  • What is the role of the humanities in creating and maintaining cultures and communities?
  • How do the humanities enable us to explore connections between natural resources and community formation/deformation?
  • What conditions have enabled historical and contemporary communities to emerge, evolve, and/or disintegrate? What are the repercussions of these transformations for subjectivity and lived experience?
  • How have green movements and initiatives impacted ways communities are conceptualized and lived?
  • Is there an ethics of sustainability?  If so, of what does it consist? Has it changed over time?
  • What are the rhetorics of sustainability? How are issues such as climate change and environmentalism represented and/or performed?
  • What apparatuses and genres have emerged in the humanities to engage issues of the sustainability of resources and/or communities?
  • How do sustainability issues reflect the changing status of the nation-state? Are we post-national?  How does such a question impact how we explore American identities?
  • How do new media change the way American communities are maintained and/or fractured?
  • What pedagogical interventions or innovations contribute to the study of American communities and identities?
  • What are the intersections between scholarly knowledge, cultural performance, and civic engagement?
 
 
2009-2010 
American Epistemologies: Corporealities, Bodies of Knowledge, and Communities
 

The 2009-2010 fellowship theme is designed to initiate conversations and research about the various knowledges produced in and by disciplines and methods in the humanities and how those knowledges participate in the formation, disruption, and/or perpetuation of American identities. Through research, teaching, and the sharing of insights, this program will analyze and assess the evolving nature of what it is to be an American. We invite proposals from tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA that discuss historical and/or contemporary manifestations of issues including but not limited to the following:

  • How are certain types of bodies (individual and/or communal) known and represented in American cultures?
  • How is knowledge of what constitutes Americanness produced from within and without?
  • What sorts of knowledges are made available through particular genres and disciplines in the humanities?
  • What is the value of the humanities in 21st-century America?
  • How and why have the content and cultural authority of certain knowledges and discourses (scientific, religious, economic, legal, etc.) shifted at particular historical moments? How do certain ways of knowing faciliate and/or foreclose other knowledges?
  • How have notions of American exceptionalism impacted the ways particular bodies and communities have been known?
  • What are the relationships between content and form?  Do certain knowledges or bodies challenge or resist representation?
  • Are we post-national?  How does such a question impact how we explore American identities?
  • How do new media change the way knowledge of Americanness and/or individual identity is constructed and/or disseminated?
  • What pedagogical interventions or innovations contribute to the study of American communities and identities?
  • What are the intersections between scholarly knowledge and community engagement?
 
 
2008-2009 
Political Affect and Political Effect:  Rhetoric, Representation, and Responsibility in American Communities
 

The 2008-09 fellowship theme is designed to initiate conversations and research in the humanities about the ways in which American Communities have been or are forged, fractured, and/or transformed by political affiliations and disavowals as they are articulated and performed in various forms and genres.  In an election year, attention to the ways in which American communities and identities are invoked, mobilized, and represented seems especially imperative, and the methodologies of disciplines in the humanities offer unique perspectives on such phenomena. We invite proposals from tenure-track faculty at CSULA that discuss historical and/or contemporary manifestations of issues including but not limited to the following:

-the aesthetic and affective dimensions of political rhetorics and the bases of their persuasive powers
-new media and their effects on community formation
-the rhetoric and discourses of progressive movements
-neo-conservatism and its appeal
-connections between political and aesthetic representation; what are the points of -intersection between artistic/literary representation and representative democracy?
-ways in which abstract notions of communal or political identity are embodied, lived, and performed
-possibilities and limits of different genres and forms (architecture, literature, monuments, theatrical performances, music/song, reportage, cartoons, portraiture, etc.) in expressing -individual and communal identities
-American identity from the outside in; how do other nations and communities construct -American identity and for what purposes?
-how have the responsibilities as well as the rights of Americanness and/or membership in different American communities been envisioned?