Past and Future

The distinctive practice of Cultural Studies at Trent has resulted from the variety of its founding members' disciplinary training and the particulars of its intellectual and historical situations. The Department emerged from a convergence of two sets of faculty members engaged in forming new programs, one in Social Theory and the other in Comparative Literature.

From the beginning, this new program incorporated into its course offerings studies in file, the history of the visual arts, the theory of avant-garde, and studio workshops, working through and struggling against existing disciplinary boundaries, faculty members at this initial stage shared a critical and self-reflexive engagement with field of cultural theory. They committed themselves to aesthetic inquiry and artistic practice in the context of theoretical and political interrogation.

Among the discourses which played a substantial role at this initial stage were Marxism and the Frankfurt School; semiotics and French (post)structural; Canadian And American communication and media theory; and British cultural materialism. These traditions have remained part of the Department's profile, though they are continually undergoing reformulation in the light of the theoretical orientations and commitments of individual faculty members.

Other discourses which have more recently found their way into Department offerings and research activities include experimental fiction and postmodern literary theory; postcolonial studies' contemporary negotiations of Marxism; Freudian an Lacanian psychoanalysis; and feminist and sexuality studies, including queer theory.