The Cultural Inbetween:
Exploring Distinctions Within Popular, High, and Low Culture
Date: Thursday, April 27th, 2023
In 1996 Richard Peterson coined the term “cultural omnivore” to describe the changing tastes of the West. He believed that the cultural ‘diet’ of the average person was beginning to include a selection both of intellectual high art, and popular culture and mass media. With the advent of streaming, self-publishing and fanfiction, and the rise in privileging alternate forms of art, more people consume in a way that Peterson would call culturally omniverous. However, does culturally omnivorous still mean the same thing now?
This graduate conference will focus on critically engaging with current perspectives on popular culture as people have grown more culturally omniverous. In recent decades, there have been increasing conversations in the spheres of high art and culture as to its relationship to mass media and popular culture. This includes debates by the Oscar’s film committee to introduce a popular film category, debates about the cultural status of video games, and the re-examination of other artistic modes in literature and the fine arts.
This virtual one-day conference seeks to draw together interdisciplinary presentations to create a generative and multidisciplinary understanding of popular culture. Presentations of 15 minutes will be organized in round tables followed by a Q&A and discussion to encourage collaborative and cross-disciplinary thinking. We welcome submissions by graduate students from a variety of perspectives and disciplinary approaches that seek to critically engage with and examine a diverse range of topics, including, but not limited to:
Where historically has pop culture sat in the divide between high and low art, and where does it sit now? Thinking of Frederic Jameson’s work on mass culture, is there something missing in this binary? Why are more people culturally omnivorous? Examples of popular culture that straddle the divide of high and low culture? Thinking of Bourdieu’s work on the power of television, why are some genres of film or television considered more intellectual than others, such as drama vs. comedy or horror? Where do video games as an art form fit - particularly the debate between more narrative driven games and more casual games? High culture vs low culture in literature, including the new subgenre of TikTok books, self-publishing, the role of fanfiction, and the current status of historically dismissed genres such as romance? How have institutions such as the museum grappled with the tension between high and low art - exhibitions on popular culture, exploring alternate museologies entirely?
Please submit through email by February 15th 2023 an abstract (300 words) of your proposed presentation, including 2-5 identifying keywords, along with a short bio (150 words) addressed to the organizing committee chairs here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include “Name + The Academic Inbetween 2023 Submission” in the subject line.
Participants will be notified by March 1st.
Aysegul Ogur, PhD student, co-organizer and lead contact for the annual Interface conference series for the institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, at Carleton University.