Past Themes and Calls for Research Proposals

Past Research Themes

Our 2016-17 Research Theme

THE HUMANITIES AND AMERICAN CULTURES: STAKES AND SPECIFICITIES

Applications Due: Friday, April 29, 2016

What are the unique powers of the humanities? What does humanistic inquiry require and what does it manifest? 

Tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA are invited to submit proposals for two different fellowship programs:

1) A NEW PROGRAM: ACP Working Group Fellowships and

2) ACP Individual Fellowships.

While individuals may apply for both, only one fellowship may be accepted.

Projects may take the form of meta-level articulations of the stakes and state of the humanities as a field of intellectual practice, or may propose specific research projects that illustrate the power of humanistic inquiry in American cultures and communities. 

This year’s theme asks questions including, but not limited to, the following:

  • What are the specific explanatory powers of the humanities?  What questions are they uniquely capable of posing?  What knowledges, narratives, and actions can they bring about?
  • In what specific ways can the theme be theorized? What are the stakes of the humanities, or of a particular line of inquiry within them, in all senses of the word? How and to what effects are the humanities a ballast, a support, a marker of borders, a risk, a reward, and/or an interest in a shared undertaking?
  • Where is the cutting edge for humanistic study today?  What pressing issues, current and historical, demand the attention of the humanities in studying American cultures and communities?
  • How are humanities-based forms of knowledge production similar to and/or different from other forms of knowing and doing? To what effects?
  • What structures – networks of information and knowledge, linguistic and communicative practices, social forces, patterns of production and consumption, and so forth – do the humanities bring into being?
  • What conditions, both material and epistemological, hinder and/or promote humanities-based inquiry and to what effects?
  • What alternative conceptualizations of community do inquiries in the humanities manifest?
  • How can work in the humanities promote a rethinking of the work of the University?
  • What intersections between scholarly knowledge, cultural performance, pedagogical innovation, and/or civic engagement do the humanities enable? 
 

Our 2015-2016 Research Theme:

RELATION

The 2015-16 American Communities Program theme is designed to deepen our understanding of the construction and perpetuation of American identities, cultures, and communities through humanities-based inquiry. In particular, this year’s theme asks us to consider how research in the humanities can help us analyze the artifacts, structures, practices, and ontologies that make various forms of relation possible and meaningful.  In other words, through what means are relations between bodies, species, objects, ideas, and/or communities mediated, managed, forged, and/or foreclosed? What bases for relations are relevant to particular American communities? How are relations imagined, manifested, and represented and to what effects?

We invite proposals from tenured and tenure-track faculty at Cal State L.A. that engage questions including, but not limited to, the following:

· material culture and the function of objects in mediating relations or rendering them visible/invisible
· the temporal and/or spatial dimensions of relations
· innovative methodologies that explore relations such as Border Studies, New Mobility Studies, and Food Studies, as well as evolving theories of relation in discourses such as aesthetics, ontology, and Marxist or psychoanalytic theory
· political treaties, contracts, gifts and promises, and other codified or informal acts of obligation; sovereignty, citizenship, privacy, treason, terror, and betrayal
· particular aesthetic forms and modes of representing affinities and connections whether material and embodied or linguistic and referential
· power relations, force, and violence; a-relationality
· pedagogical possibilities informed by the ethics of relation
· new conceptualizations of American communities in relation to global or hemispheric contexts
· intersubjectivity, permeability, attachment, and theories of the self

 

 

Our 2014-2015 Research Theme:  The Biological Century

Each year, the American Communities Program hosts a fellowship program and a year of thematic programming orbiting a set of central, grounding questions.  This year's theme, “The Biological Century,” explores some of the interfaces between science and technology, the body, social power, and economic and aesthetic productivity.  We wish to build on Michel Foucault’s account, now almost four decades old, of a modern world governed by converging technologies of biological and political control; these biopolitical mechanisms, he argued, were intended to regulate such concerns as birth and death rates, the spread and treatment of disease, and the life and vitality of entire populations.  Since Foucault’s initial inquiries, theorists of biopower have applied his concepts broadly to various ways in which forms of life themselves are governed, managed, stimulated, and even created by power.  Recently, the mapping of the human genome, the capitalization of affect, the haunting prospect of bioterrorism, and various crises in bioethics have led some thinkers to regard this as “the biological century.”  Our theme responds to that characterization, and to the imperative to understand the creative practices and critical discourses that address the biopolitical foundations of American identity and community.    

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:

  • How do contemporary understandings of the human body – and of larger collective bodies – reflect the application of political and cultural power? To what extent do new frontiers in reproductive rights, genomics, and medicine reflect biopolitical imperatives?
  • What forms of authority – medical, technical, managerial, legal, etc. – emerge as crucial for biopolitical regulation?  What interventions can such authority make in the name of life and health?
  • In what ways do metaphors such as those of immunity, pathology, addiction, vitality, and virality structure our existence?  Via what creative forms and genres might the arts represent and exploit contemporary biopolitical transformations?   
  • What are the impacts of new means of registering living memory through the interface between humans and digital technology?  How does living in a world of digital immediacy change our conceptions of memory, time, agency, and futurity?
  • How have categories of race, ethnicity, and gender been transformed by new kinds of biological belonging?  What conditions have enabled the appearance of new bio-social collectivities?  How might notions of the nation-state, or of “American community,” be transformed by these developments?
  • What explanatory force do philosophical accounts of biopolitics and biopower – such as the divergent understandings proffered by thinkers such as Agamben, Esposito, Hardt, and Negri – offer for contemporary cultural analysis? 
  • How have new biotechnological thresholds opened up possibilities for capitalism?  In what ways does our age of pharmacological or affective capitalism perpetuate, or deviate from, Fordist industrial models? 
  • How have new theories of the posthuman transformed both ways of life and ways of knowing our world?
 

 

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?