We are delighted to be hosting the annual MeCCSA conference at London South Bank University in January 2018. Media/communications/cultural studies has been taught at London South Bank University (LSBU) for around 20 years. From a small team teaching a single degree in the mid-1990s, we have grown to form the School of Arts & Creative Industries, established in 2014. The School encompasses a wide range of sub-disciplines and we are keen to be as inclusive as possible in developing thematic strands for the conference programme.
For those of you who don’t know the area, we are situated a 10-minute walk from the South Bank Centre (the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and British Film Institute). Ten minutes walking in the other direction gets you to Borough Market, Tate Modern, the Shard and Shakespeare’s Globe. It is a very interesting area to wander around – January weather permitting!
As always, the annual conference is a showcase for the best work across the full range of MeCCSA interests, and is also an opportunity to hear about and discuss important topics in both media and HE policy relevant to MeCCSA members.
The theme for the 2018 conference is Creativity and Agency. ‘Creativity’ is a concept that is, at least implicitly, central to many courses in our subject area, which often entail analysis of ‘creative industries’ and include elements of ‘creative practice’ as part of the curriculum. Yet it remains a highly contested concept, from the official promotion of the ‘creative economy’ through to more recent debates about the commodification of everyday ‘creative labour’ via social media.
‘Agency’ has a complex and perhaps contradictory relationship to creativity in the context of the ‘creative industries’ and the ‘creative economy’, whether conceived in terms of individual or collective, artistic or political terms. From understandings of the ‘culture industry’ as a deadening influence on individual agency and freedom, to more recent ideas about the creative sector as offering new opportunities for self-expression and self-determination, the relationship between ideas of agency and culture and creativity has not been static but has developed historically.
As Raymond Williams observed in Keywords, an understanding of ‘creativity’ in terms of making and transformation as positive capacities of human (as opposed to divine) agency, emerged in the Renaissance and continued to be extended and modified in different way through to the twentieth century. How has the concept developed in the twenty-first century? How should we interpret today’s creative landscape? How has the concept developed in the twenty-first century? How should we interpret today’s creative landscape?
We have already confirmed three keynote speakers whose work addresses these themes, and who we think will stimulate new and interesting discussions around them: Professor Angela McRobbie, Professor David Gauntlett, and Professor Andy Miah.
Our conference website is up and running at www.meccsa2018.org, and the Call for Papers is open. We are looking forward to seeing you in January!