Fields in the program

The Cultural Studies Ph.D. program comprises the following three fields:

  • Culture and the Arts
  • Culture and Technology
  • Culture and Theory

1. Culture and the Arts                       
This field encompasses the work Cultural Studies Ph.D students are invited to do in relation to materials traditionally classified as aesthetic. While many types of research are possible, including research on cultural production, one of the main strengths of our faculty is in comparative arts, media, and letters.

More specifically, students working in the area of visual studies would be free to pursue inquiry in one particular medium or form or genre; but they would also be expected to understand that medium in relation to other visual (and non-visual) media.  Similarly, students working on narrative might branch out from narrative in fiction to other forms of narrative in media such as television, theatre, newspapers, film, or the Internet.

Many of our faculty work with experimental, cutting-edge materials (in film, documentary, narrative, theatre, art, and music), precisely because these experiments engage in the issue of the grammar of their own media and in the history and conditions of their own production, and students will be invited to come to terms with such materials and such concerns. Cultural Studies faculty have published widely on such subjects as the cultural history of the spectacle; experimental contemporary fiction; punk culture; the textualization of sexuality; avant-garde writing, the postmodern condition, digital culture,  landscapes, monuments, the witness in contemporary art and letters, community radio, and contemporary theatre.

2. Culture and Technology                       
This area provides the opportunity for advanced humanistic studies in modern and postmodern technoculture. Students would be welcome to study the traces of technology in cultural definition, cultural history, and cultural change, using reference points in mass-communicated culture, and innovative cybernetic, administrative, and nano- technologies. 

Different directions of inquiry could include the construction of possible world scenarios; the uses of media in popular culture and popular politics; the technological mediations of erotics, aesthetics, and ethics; and the impact of technology on the body as a project and work site of meaning, where (post)modern and (post)human subjectivities are articulated. 

Cultural Studies faculty have published on the McLuhan-Innis galaxy of ideas and approaches to cultural media, the Raymond Williams-inspired approaches to cultural technology and social form, and  the complex of ideas from Walter Benjamin to Jean Baudrillard and Stanislaw Lem about simulation, virtuality, and the reconfiguration of memory, intention, value, behaviour, pathology, and identity in 21st century technoculture. Members of the Cultural Studies PhD faculty have been continuously involved in the production of the scholarly journal, Science Fiction Studies, and  the Trent library has developed an extensive special collection of science fiction texts that would be useful for students pursuing research in this field.

3. Culture and Theory                       
One of the distinctive features of the Cultural Studies Program at Trent is a commitment to theoretical inquiry into the foundations of cultural studies as an interdisciplinary field.  Instead of functioning simply as a framework for the interpretation of culture, theory in this mode takes itself as its own object. Students choosing this particular orientation would have the opportunity to engage with and intervene in the ongoing elaboration of a number of different cultural-theoretical approaches.

Cultural Studies faculty have published many articles and books relating to the work of diverse theorists (eg. Arendt, Bataille, Baudrillard, Benjamin, Blanchot, Comte, Deleuze, Derrida, Fanon, Fish, Habermas, Haraway, Hayles, Heller, Kristiva, Lacan, Lukács, Lyotard, McLuhan, Ranciere, Saussure, Weber, White, and Williams); and focusing on recent developments in biopolitics, environmentalism, poetics and narratology, postcolonial theory, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, queer theory, semiotics; and engaging in diverse projects in cultural and social theory: for example, apocalypse and the human subject, hybridity, the nature of the gift, post-humanism, post-modernism, the realation of the political and the aesthetic, religion.