This is just a quick report from our one-day symposium at Newcastle. More to follow...
The day was entitled: Toward a philosophy of the vernacular? And was based around our reading of Richard Middleton’s new book Voicing the Popular, although no one was forced to argue from/for/against his work.
The day started with a striking paper from Mladen Dolar who stunned us with an amusing, good-natured and yet challenging look at the vernacular voice, drawing on Benjamin, Freud, Lacan, John Cage and many others.
I don’t want to go through the day by presentation, but I think it is fair to say the level of presentation and discussion was consistently extremely erudite. Issues ranged from considering the nature of the vernacular or popular voice, to a number of case studies – conspiracy theory through considerations of canon formation to the nature of the street through to theorisations of the vernacular ‘event’ (after Badiou), reclaiming the elitist within the vernacular and voice and sickness.
The day was, not surprisingly, avowedly Lacanian, with some striking attempts at strong theorisations of commitment, truth claims, fidelity, truth effects and performativity.
The round table, although inevitably slightly rambling at times (as these things always are), fell on some striking formulations and really helped both consolidate and open up the papers’ themes and orientations.
Jodi Dean (I Cite)
Mark Fisher (K-Punk)
Ian Biddle (Blah-feme)
The programme was as follows:
10.00-11.00 Keynote presentation
Mladen Dolar (University of Ljubljana): Vox populi
11.00-11.30 tea and coffee
11.30-13.00 First session:
Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York): Popular Credibility: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
Freya Jarman-Ivens (University of Liverpool): Enjoying the low Other, or, Confessions of a popular musicologist
Will Edmondes (University of Newcastle): Coming Straight From The Street: Keeping It Surreal
14.00-15.30 Second session
Richard Elliott (University of Newcastle): Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll: Interpellation, Identification and Ideological Transference in Popular Music
Mark Fisher (UK): The Object Speaks: Grace Jones
Ian Biddle (University of Newcastle): Before the people, voice.
15.30-16.00 tea and coffee
16.00 Round Table: Toward a philosophy of the vernacular?
Mladen Dolar, Richard Middleton (University of Newcastle) and all other speakers