If you want to know more about the live seminar series, and some general background to the seminars and the podcast, read on
What does this seminar series do?
It mainly explores ideas from the traditions of cultural studies and radical political theory, considering their relevance to understanding contemporary political issues, struggles and campaigns, as well as key themes in political and social history.
How is it organised?
CPP has evolved out of two parallel projects that both started in 2015. Debbie Shaw was teaching a free course on cultural studies and cultural theory at squatted and co-operative spaces in London; Jeremy Gilbert was teaching a very similar course for an audience mostly of activists from various social movements and political organisations, in the basement of the New Economics Foundation. Originally, Debbie’s course was called ‘introduction to cultural theory’ while Jeremy’s was called ‘Culture, Power and Politics’.
Debbie and Jeremy were (and still are) colleagues at the University of East London, where they taught cultural studies together for many years. They are also both directors of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London. They each also have a long history of activism and public education.
These started out as parallel projects, doing quite similar things for slightly different audiences. After a couple of years we basically merged them into one project, although the organisation of our activities still bears some of the traces of these slightly different trajectories.
In a normal year, the way the programme usually work is like this:
Autumn: Introduction to Cultural Theory
In the Autumn, Debbie usually leads a series of introductory lectures on cultural theory and cultural studies. The questions being asked in this tradition include: what is the connection between culture and power? How do the ideas we have about what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ influence our decisions? What is gender? Cultural theory makes use of techniques from philosophy, history, sociology, human geography, anthropology and political and critical theory to examine these questions in the context of contemporary popular cultures.
The course is free because we believe not only that education should be free but that knowledge is a crucial weapon in the war against all forms of inequality.
If you’ve never been to university, have been but miss the critical debates or are curious about who decides what counts as knowledge in the first place, we’d like to meet you.
There is no set reading (although we’ll recommend some if you’re interested) and no essay assignments, exams or deadlines (although we’ll set some if you want to challenge yourself). All the classes are interactive and give you the chance to think about everyday life in the context of the history of ideas. We’ll provide the learning environment. The rest is up to you.
This originally came out of a free ‘Introduction to Cultural Studies’ course at Open School East, a free art school based in Hackney.
In 2023 this course actually happened in the Spring. Maybe it will again.
Spring / Summer: Culture, Power, and Politics
In the late Spring / Summer, Jeremy leads a series of seminars covering a range of topics in contemporary politics, cultural studies, social science and cultural theory. This can be seen as following on from Debbie’s course, but we don’t expect anyone necessarily to have attended that to be able to attend any of these seminars. In 2023, this series was co-organised with Jacob Mukherjee.
This series normally features many guest speakers, including academic, journalists and activists. It is a chance to see what’s happening at the cutting edge of current work in the fields of cultural studies, critical sociology and political theory, and how that work interacts with and helps us understand what’s going on in the wider fields of politics, culture and social change.
The idea for the original Culture, Power and Politics seminars, led by Jeremy, came out of discussions amongst members of a number of different organisations and groups, including New Economy Organisers’ Network, Compass The World Transformed, and Demand the Impossible,
From the beginning the hope was for the sessions to be useful and relevant both to political activists and organisers and to others simply interested in exploring the ideas. We also wanted them to work for people who have no prior knowledge of the subjects and for those who may be world-class experts, and everyone in between. Our idea was that if you don’t know anything about these subjects then feel free to come and find out. If you’re an expert – then come and join in the discussions to help others learn and to deepen your own understanding through conversation with others. We believe that all learning is collective!
Both sets of seminars (Jeremy’s and Debbie’s) have been running in different formats and venues since 2015, and we think they have been very successful at achieving what they set out to do, so we are continuing with them.
Most of the Spring / Summer seminars led by Jeremy to date have been recorded and podcast – go to the menu and click on podcasts to find the archive of recordings.
Usually Debbie’s seminars are not recorded BUT a lot of the material covered is the same as the material that was covered in first few sessions ever of Jeremy’s original Culture, Power and Politics, that can all be found on the podcast page.
So you can basically treat the archive of ‘culture, power, politics’ podcasts as a continuous exploration of the same set of themes and ideas that Debbie normally introduces for new participants in her series. But you don’t need to have attended Debbie’s seminars to be able to follow the whole podcast series from the beginning, if you want to, because the podcast series starts with Jeremy covering most of the same topics that Debbie normally covers in her seminars.
What’s the format of the live seminars?
This really depends on who turns up and what they want to do. Ideally we like it to be a fairly free-flowing mixture of lecture, open workshop, group discussion, skill-share and political debate.It really varies from session to session.
What topics have been covered?
Go to the menu above and click on our podcast page!
More details please?
You can join our low-volume email newsletter / mailing list HERE
How do I join?
You can find details of upcoming seminars by clicking here. If there are no upcoming dates listed here, it means that we have nothing currently planned. Join the mailing list to find out when we do.
You can also subscribe to the podcast feed by clicking on the link above.
What is happening now?
We’ve finished most of our live seminars for 2023 – we may organise some online seminars later in the year. In addition, Jeremy will be launching a monthly online seminar on Spinozist Marxism with Jason Read and Andy Goffey in September 2023.
How do I stay in touch if I don’t want to attend the next seminar (or even if I do), or if I want to know about podcasts and live events
Again, you can join our mailing list HERE
You can like our Facebook page but we barely use it. You can also follow @jemgilbert on Twitter.
Who funds all this?