Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies

Theme Three: Interiority/Exteriority

bikeride5When we study culture we consider a specific set of social habits, behaviours, or relations and then speculate on the politics of those performances. Yet one of the recent developments in cultural studies has been a move from considering these performances as not merely characteristic of specific cultural regimes but expressive or, indeed, as something which performatively constitutes culture. In this respect, cultural studies has recently shifted its attention to the relationship between interiority and exteriority. How do personal emotions, ideals and beliefs impact upon the collective culture? How is the relationship symbiotic? Similarly, what is the relationship between the subject's interiority and how this is identified externally by culture? Current themes that fuel much of the research in Sussex's Centre for Cultural Studies include considerations of the cultural politics of emotion: the tension between interior emotions such as shame and how this constitutes the exterior subject within culture. An interest with the current obsession with body image, and culture's manipulation of the body, questioning the relationship between interior ideals and how this is interpreted externally. Pertinent questions for this strand include:

  • How are meanings extracted from cultural consumption actively incorporated into subjectivities?
  • What traces or essences of self are sustained, despite cultural impact, and why?
  • How can emotions be somatized via particular social and cultural practices?
  • What is the changing role of spirituality in a secularized Western context? How can that binary secular/religious be 'queered'?
  • What do we mean by 'the cultural politics of emotion'? And how might we examine work in this field using comparative analytical methodologies?
  • How can we critically revisit arguments regarding self/subjectivity and contribute to ongoing debates?
  •  What are we to make of the current 'therapy cultures'? Are current government policies on mental health really turning people into consumers?