STUART HALL: THE REPRESENTATION IS CONSTITUTIVE ANNIVERSARY PROJECT

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Course Description:

Interdisciplinary ARTS & HUMANITIES research seminar identifies and reframes–for contemporary consumption–the visual significance, theoretical profundity, and conceptual power of cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s 1997 lecture, Representation and the Media.  The groundbreaking producer/director of critical media studies documentaries, Sut Jhally, filmed Hall’s lecture at the University of Westminster studios in London and released the illustrated lecture on VHS the same year, also year Hall retired. Jhally, describes his transformative visual essay as “an extended meditation on representation,“ during which “the godfather of multiculturalism” persuasively“ argues [1] the process of representation itself constitutes the very world it aims to represent,]; [2] shared language of a culture, its signs and images, provides a conceptual roadmap giving meaning to the world; and [3] the dynamics of media representation reproduce forms of symbolic power.”

Research team collectively responsible for rigorous study of Hall’s Westminster lecture and producing a reedited 20th anniversary version of the 55-minute lecture–updated for a contemporary internet generation inundated with the current rash of fake news debates.  Students will conduct a comparative study of other films featuring Stuart Hall, including Jhally’s Race: The Floating Signifier 1996; The Origins of Cultural Studies, 2006; Personally Speaking, A Long Conversation with Stuart Hall, 2009; The Last Interview: Stuart Hall on the Politics of Cultural Studies, 2016; and John Akomfrah’s The Stuart Hall Project (2013).  Students will learn and use Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier to produce and upload a Fair Use aware, historically-situated visual project.  Prior video editing and experience useful, rather than required.

STUART HALL (1932-2014) left his childhood home of Kingston, Jamaica in 1951 as a rising Rhodes Scholar focused on studying English at Oxford University’s Merton College.  Hall’s post-WWII, pre-national independence immigration into the British empire’s metropole from the Caribbean Islands–colonized as the West Indies, ranks as one among hundreds of thousands dubbed the Windrush Generation.  They collectively transformed England’s social, cultural, theoretical, and visual landscape. With over 800 hours of recorded television and radio commentaries and interviews, Hall’s scholarly presence left the generation’s most indelible mark on British culture and Black diasporan intellectual thought.  Among Hall’s many social, political, and intellectual interventions, the trailblazing cultural theorist was founding editor of New Left Review (1957); the first Fellow of the fledgling Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University (1964)—replacing the founder as the Acting Director/Director (68-79); Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (1979); professor of sociology, Open University (1979-97); Keynote Address: “What’s This Black in Black Popular Culture?”, Black Popular Culture Conference, Dia Center for the Arts, NYC (1991); and editor of Representation: Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices, 1997.

SUT JHALLY, born in Kenya (1955), raised and undergraduate trained in England, PhD, Canada’s Simon Fraser University (1984); professor of communications at Massachusetts University Amherst, since 1985; cultural theorist; film/video producer and director; founded the counter-hegemonic production and distribution center, Media Education Foundation (MEF) in 1992, and remains the primary visual recorder of Stuart Hall’s podium lecture-based legacy.