Archive for calls, March 2013

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[ecrea] CFP: Advertising and Consumer Culture - an interdisciplinary symposium at the University of York

Sat Mar 09 23:23:37 GMT 2013



CENTRE, FRIDAY 31/5/2013.


Commercial speech – advertising – makes up most of what we share as a
culture . . . As the language of commercialism has become louder, the
language of high culture has become quieter.

                – James B. Twitchell, Twenty Ads that Shook the World

Throughout the modern period, advertising and consumer culture have
dominated everyday life; moreover, the trappings of commercialism
permeate much of supposed ‘high culture’. Commodities clutter the
pages of novels from Dickens and Zola to Bret Easton Ellis; works by
Joyce and DeLillo are enlivened by advertising jingles and slogans;
brands and trademarks pervade the practice of artists from Picasso to
Warhol and the visualisation of consumer desire is appropriated and
challenged in the work of Richard Hamilton and Martha Rosler.

Whether celebrating or critiquing advertising and consumer culture,
art reflects our enduring fascination with them, despite research into
the psychological effects of advertising, concerns over the evils of
consumerism, and the often sinister nature of market research. The
recent television show Mad Men, for instance, has revivified interest
and scholarly debate surrounding the power of advertising and the
consumer, as well as restaging debates around sexism, truth and the
heteronormative ideal. Meanwhile, sociology in the wake of Erving
Goffman continues to explore advertising’s uses and abuses of gender,
identity and desire. Countervailing against consumerism and
advertising’s many critics, theorists such as Michel de Certeau and
the critical movement Thing Theory have endeavoured to examine
advertising and consumer culture from a standpoint that goes beyond
the model of the ‘passive consumer’ or Marx’s account of commodity

We invite abstracts for 20 minute papers from postgraduate students
and early-career researchers working in the modern period
(1850-present day) across the humanities and social sciences. This
conference aims to provoke interdisciplinary discussion about
advertising and consumer culture. We therefore welcome papers that
address these topics from historical, sociological, political or
anthropological perspectives, as well as papers that analyse
advertisements themselves and the representation of advertising and
modern consumer culture in literature, film, television, theatre, and
visual art.

Topics for discussion may include but are by no means limited to:

– The ways in which advertising and consumer culture intersect with
issues of class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity
– Psychological/psychoanalytic perspectives on advertising and
consumer behaviour; how identity is created and reflected through
participation in consumer culture; the legacy of Freud and Bernays
– How artists have appropriated the techniques of advertising, or have
been co-opted by advertising and commodity culture (Koons, Rosler,
Murakami, Kusama and Hirst)
– Theorists who have engaged with advertising and consumer culture
(Adorno, Barthes, Baudrillard, Certeau, Fukuyama, Goffman, Klein,
Marx, McLuhan)
– The use of music in advertisements
– The formal innovations literature has adopted to create a poetics of
advertising/consumer culture
– Shopping, the rise of the department store, brand names, and their
representation in culture
– Histories of advertising agencies or ‘ad-men’
– How the importance of advertising in art may challenge the
boundaries between high and low culture and/or modernism and
– Anti-consumerist movements (the Situationist International,
Adbusters) and strategies (détournement, culture jamming)
– The recent transformations advertising has undergone as a result of
social media
– The advert as spectacle or ‘event’ (celebrity endorsements,
Christmas advertising, product placement, Pawel Althamer’s Real Time
– Figures who have worked in advertising, either before or during
their artistic careers (Fitzgerald, Rushdie, DeLillo, Warhol, Lynch)
– Political advertising and the roles of politics in advertising

Abstracts for papers should be no more than 300 words in length, and
submitted by Monday 25th March 2013 (tocmods-pgforum /at/ We
ask that applicants also include a short biography. For further
information about the symposium or the CModS Postgraduate Forum,
please contact us at this address, or visit

Dr Jo Littler is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Industries at City
University London and the author of Radical Consumption: shopping for
change in contemporary culture (Open University Press, 2009). She has
published widely on consumerism, particularly as it intersects with
the politics of globalisation; accordingly, her work has addressed
topics such as ethical consumption, anti-consumerism and the culture

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