Residential Research Group Fellowship: Culture, Industry, Finance (Spring 2015)

The University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) invites proposals for a Residential Research Group Fellowship in the Spring 2015 quarter.

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Who Can Apply: UC Faculty, Post-Docs, Graduate Students and non-UC faculty.
Funding Source: UCHRI
Deadline: March 5, 2014 (11:59 pm PST). Apply online via FastApps (opens on January 15, 2014)
Group Residency Quarter: Spring 2015
Funding Decision: It is expected that awards will be announced in late April 2014. Final awards are contingent upon available funding.

Research Abstract: “Culture, Industry, Finance”

Conveners:
Joshua Clover, English, UC Davis
Michael Szalay, English, UC Irvine

This research group seeks to understand new conjunctions between mass-produced culture and finance. We’re interested in the the changing economic logic of the culture industry in the era of finance capital, more so than the interpretable character of cultural products. Equally, we’re interested in reading the regime of finance and its political economy through the optic of industrial cultural production. That our inquiry might travel dialectically in both directions is itself an indication of mutations in the relation between culture and finance.

The U.S. culture industry, for so long understood as society’s dream factory and ideology machine, seems to have achieved a provisionally new status: in its gradual and debt-driven retreat from the wave of conglomeration that peaked with the AOL-Time Warner merger in 2000, it has undergone a real restructuring polarized by financialization and globalization, two predicates of the post-Fordist economy and its regime of dematerialization. At the same time, as companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Google have begun producing traditional television content, distinctions between new and old media seem increasingly beside the point. Indeed, in light of the manner in which “creativity” has come to function as a central paradigm for the generation of profit within a range of information and knowledge industries not directly involved in the production of entertainment, the culture industry might be understood to name something at once specific and pervasive. In the process, it has also become synecdoche for a provisionally new U.S.-centered capitalism, insofar as it promises a version of what financial institutions affirm: money for nothing, or at least, money without the kind of durable commodities which launched two industrial revolutions. For a thinker like Paulo Virno, for instance, the culture industry is “an industry among others” and, at the same time, “the industry of the means of production”–that is, the industry whose “linguistic cognitive competencies” make possible wealth creation throughout the economy as a whole. This is a way of naming the novelty of our moment: the culture industry seems to have become both an ideal and a central engine of finance capitalism, and thus a crucial locus within the regime of financialization described by Fernand Braudel as an empire’s “sign of autumn.” The promises of a New Economy characterized by finance and ostensibly creative forms of immaterial production must be approached skeptically (the facticity of crisis provides one immediate counterclaim). It is precisely for this reason that the culture industry provides a singular lens with which to assess the viability of a regime of finance capital generally.

We encourage applications across the disciplines from those who wish to understand finance and cultural production, whether by way of a Marxist political economy or by way of any aspect of the conjunction between finance and the culture industry. We likewise encourage applications from those interested in the range of concepts and phenomena tangential to that conjunction, which might include but not be limited to immaterial labor, derivatives, semiocapital, the cognitaria, and the purportedly productive capacity of culture in the broad sense. It’s our hope that each seminar participant will contribute a chapter toward a publication generated from our findings.

Program Overview

Residential research groups (RRGs) are at the heart of the UC Humanities Research Institute activities, convening key scholars to work in collaboration on interdisciplinary topics of special significance. UCHRI promotes new scholarship in the humanities by fostering collaborative inquiry outside institutional and disciplinary structures. RRGs are in essence teams of researchers, often unknown to each other before residency, and assembled to work on a commonly-defined research agenda. They are composed of a range of UC faculty, visiting scholars (including UC postdoctoral scholars), UC doctoral students, and non-UC faculty as resources allow.

RRGs are developed through a two-stage process. First, research topics for RRGs are determined by open competition or by UCHRI in consultation with its Advisory Board and UC leaders in the humanities.

Through a competitive review process, RRG fellows are then selected based on their ability to contribute to the research agenda of the group. Collaboration may take many forms. In communicating across disciplines, there are challenges of language, terminology, and methodology for all RRGs. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when those challenges are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible.

Expected outcomes of an RRG include edited or co-edited volumes, key word texts, multimedia websites, significant extramural proposals, substantial curriculum plans, or other such significant projects arising from research pursued at UCHRI.

Acceptance of the fellowship means that fellows would be in residence for an entire quarter. UCHRI’s facilities for participating scholars include on-site offices, meeting rooms, a multi-media room, and a reference library. Furnished apartments are provided to fellows by the Institute for use on an as-needed basis during their residencies, resources permitting.

How to Apply

Applications from prospective participants are accepted exclusively online via UCHRI’s FastApps system.

Required documents include:

  • Biographical Abstract (150 words max.)
  • Fellowship Project Abstract (150 words max.)
  • Proposal Narrative (2000 words max)
  • Curriculum Vitae of PI (2 pages max.)

For program related questions, please contact Suedine Nakano, Program Officer at snakano@hri.uci.edu.

For technical assistance with FastApps, contact techsupport@hri.uci.edu.
Please include the name of the program for which you need assistance.