MA in Culture Industry

Using an innovative mixture of advanced cultural theory, and practice-based elements including placements and student-led research and experimental projects, this new MA aims to put debates about organisation and production at the forefront of cultural thinking.

You'll also have the opportunity to undertake placements within the culture industry, where you'll be able to study specific practices.

About the department
Centre for Cultural Studies

Length
1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
Funding
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

Careers
Culture industry; NGOs; academic and non-academic research.
Skills
Project realisation; research; independent and interdisciplinary culture.
Fees
See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Lisa Rabanal
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

A collaboration between the Department of Media and Communications and the Centre for Cultural Studies, the teaching team includes Professor Scott Lash, Professor Angela McRobbie, and Professor Matthew Fuller.

The programme is aimed at graduates with an interest in working and intervening in the cultural industries.

Some candidates may come via the traditional academic route, while others will have experience of working within the cultural field in some way before undertaking the degree.

If you want to incorporate contemporary thinking on the organisation and work of culture into your practice or research, this is the programme for you.

Find out more about:

About the Centre for Cultural Studies

Video: Click to play

Assessment

Essays; project report and documentation/placement report and documentation; research lab participation.


Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference.
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

Applicants are encouraged to submit by 31 May, though applications after this date may still be considered to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international students. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Entrance requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at upper least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent to enroll and study on this programme. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form

UK/EU

+44 (0)20 7919 7766
course-info@gold.ac.uk

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702
international@gold.ac.uk

Modules and structure

Core modules

CU71016A Practices of the Culture Industry 30 CATS

One of the problems that the study of the culture industry presents is that in its very nature its key object of analysis, the culture industry, as a whole has the status of a theoretical or policy-oriented fiction.  Such a status does not negate its analytical use, but reflection on the particularly fragile and temporary nature of the field and its associated circumscription by notions of policy need to be brought into productive comparison with actual cultural practices.  Equally, those active in the field described by this term recognise the term as belonging to a separate category of knowledge than that required to succeed in the production of culture.  Culture involves complex networks of production ranging from the institutional and the transnational to the interpersonal and aesthetic. Here questions of genre, of variegated economic models and ultimately of existential and aesthetic rationale, break up any treatment of the culture industry as a coherent whole.  Driven by questions of practice this core module is organized around a series of more detailed analyses of specific cultural dynamics, where the theoretical models from part one are brought to bear on individual areas of practice and the ways that they can and cannot be thought of in terms of ‘industry’. The section will focus on the empirical structure of particular, methodologies for researching the culture industries, and the practice of cultural workers within these fields. In addition to lectures by academic researchers with particular expertise in music, fashion, radio and new economies, students will have access to practitioners from the fields of radio, film, music and art.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Kathy Acker, ‘Writing, Identity and Copyright in the Net Age’, in, Bodies of Work, Serpent’s Tail, London, 1997, pp.66-80
  • Bernadette Corporation, Reena Spaulings, Semiotext(e), New York, 2004
  • Nicholas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, Editions du Réel, Bordeux, 2002
  • Claire Bishop, ed., Participation, The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2006
  • Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon, the logic of sensation, Continuum, London
  • Peter Drucker, (1969). The Age of Discontinuity; Guidelines to Our changing SocietyHarper and Row, New York. ISBN 0465089844
  • Thomas Franks, The Birth of Cool, beat, be-bop and the american avant garde, Free Press, New York, 2001 

Convened by Dr Stefanie Petschick

Spring term 

Lectures: Tuesday 10am–11am LGB CR
Seminars: Tuesday 11am–12noon LGB CR and 12noon–1pm LGB CR

CU71015A Theories of the Culture Industry: Work, Creativity and Precariousness 30 CATS

This module sets out the key theorizations  of the culture industry. While incorporating classical figurations of the culture industry, the module is primarily concerned to assemble a clear engagement with contemporary research such as those spearheaded by leading researchers at Goldsmiths. The organization and substance of work and of precarious labour, of the developing debates and mechanisms of ‘intellectual property’ and cultural workers’ development of institutions and networks as well as contemporary configurations of the professional will be discussed. Students will learn to strategise cultural production and intervention through exploration of relevant material.  The globalization of the culture industry will provide a persistent and ambitious point of reference.

The module will combine a critical assessment of the most significant theoretical frameworks for analyzing and understanding the contemporary cultural industries, with detailed analysis of the structure of specific cultural industries. The opening of the module will introduce key conceptual frameworks for interpreting the cultural industries, starting with the classic macro perspectives of the ‘culture industry thesis’ developed by The Frankfurt School, and Political Economy, which is concerned with the economic structure of the creative economy. These theoretical frameworks are read critically in relation to contemporary structural changes within the social world, primarily the shift from an industrial to a knowledge based economy, the rise of globalization, reorganizations in the labour market, and the proliferation of symbolic goods, brands and logos. As the module continues it draws more broadly from contemporary cultural theory in order to develop a model of the cultural industries which remains attuned to the influence of economic structure and ‘the domination of the commodity’ while being able to account also for the complex texture of innovation, creativity, and restructured power relationships which are emerging.

Indicative reading

  • Theodor Adorno &  Martin Horkheimer, ‘The Culture Industry, Enlightenment as Mass Deception’, in, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Verso, London, 1979
  • Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry, Routledge, London, 2004
  • Bewes, T and Gilbert, J 2000 Cultural Capitalism: Politics after new Labour
  • Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-GernsheimIndividualization: Institutionalized Individualism and Its Social and Political Consequences, Sage (Theory, Culture & Society), London, 2001
  • Ulrich Beck, The Brave New World of Work, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2000
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, 1993
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Weight of the World, Polity, Cambridge, 2000
  • Paul Du Gay, ed. 1997 Production of Culture/ Cultures of Production
  • Paul Du Gay and Pryke M. eds. Cultural Economy: Cultural analysis and Commercial Life, Sage, London, 2001
  • Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than The Sun, Quartet, London, 2000
  • Dick  Hebdige, Hiding in the Light, Routledge, London, 1989
  • David Hesmondhalgh, Cultural Industries, 2nd edn. Sage, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi, 2007
  • John Howkins, The creative economy: how people make money from ideas, Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, 2001
  • J. Hutnyk ‘Adorno at Womad, South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity’, in Postcolonial Studies Vol 1 no 3, 1999
  • J Hutnyk and S Sharma eds., ‘Music and Politics An Introduction’, in Theory Culture and Society vol 17 no 3, June 2000
  • Ettema, J & D. Whitney eds.. ‘Individuals in Mass Media Organisations: Creativity and Constraint’, 1982
  • Scott Lash and John Urry,  Economies of Signs and Space, Sage, London, 1994
  • Scott Lash and Celia Lury, Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things, Cambridge: Polity, 2006
  • Charles Leadbetter, Living on Thin Air, 1999
  • Angela McRobbie, In the Culture Society: Art, Fashion and Popular Music, Routledge, London, 1999
  • Angela McRobbie, British Fashion Design: Rag Trade or Image Industry?, Routledge, London, 1998
  • Angela McRobbie, 'Fashion as a Culture Industry', in, Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson, eds., Fashion Culture: Theories, Explanations and Analysis, Routledge, London, 2000
  • Angela McRobbie, 'From Holloway to Hollywood: Happiness at Work in the Cultural Economy' in Paul du Gay and M Pryke (eds.), Cultural Economy: Cultural Analysis and Commercial Life, Sage, 2001
  • Angela McRobbie, 'Clubs to Companies: Notes on the Decline of Political Culture in Speeded Up Creative Worlds', Cultural Studies, vol. 16  no.4, 2002, pp.516-531
  • Miege, B The Capitalisation of Cultural Production,. 1993
  • Keith Negus, Music Genres and Corporate Cultures, Routledge, London, 1999
  • Andrew Ross, No Collarthe humane workplace and its hidden costs, Basic Books, New York, 2003
  • Saskia Sassen, Cities In A World Economy, 1994
  • Herbert Schiller, Culture, Inc. The Corporate Takeover of Public Expression, 1989
  • Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. W. W. Norton, 1998
  • Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated, Verso, London 2005
  • Sharon Zukin, Loft Living, 1989

Convened by Dr Stefanie Petschik 

Autumn term 

Lecture: Tuesday 10am–11am RHB 309

Seminars:
Tuesday 11am–12noon LGB CR (group 1)
11am-12noon DTH B8 (group 2)
12noon-1pm DTH B8 (group 3)
2pm-3pm LGB G1 (group 3)

CU71018A Minor Placements / Minor Projects 30

Minor Placements

One kind of placement available is short and London-based, accounting for 30 credits. The module is intended to make use of Goldsmiths’ location in London, a global capital of cultural production. Through the proximity of London’s cultural industries – music, fashion, radio, new technologies – and the input of practitioners and experts, you'll be encouraged to bring cultural theory and a critical perspective to bear on London cultural industries and the practice of London’s cultural workers.

Minor Projects

You'll be able to undertake projects towards your dissertation, and as a minor. These projects are self-initiated and are expected to engage with practices of culture in significant terms.

Work on projects will be supported by the provision of a Research Lab space. Rigorous work within an interdisciplinary context will be crucial. You may also develop and define the scope of project work in relation with other students, external organisations, events or practitioners.

While such self-initiated work can be of a purely experimental or speculative nature, you may also wish to establish some kind of connection with outside agencies, such as competitions, exhibitions, NGOs, and community groups.

CU71018A/19A Research Lab *

A key part of the MA is the Research Lab, a platform for experimental research and practice in culture. The Lab is a weekly space by which, through the use of a learning plan and in discussion with teaching and support staff, you customise your practical and theoretical skills in culture industry research.

The Research Lab is a key aspect of the support for Projects and Placements (see above).

Taught by Dr Josephine Berry

Friday: 9.30am–4pm

 

CU71019A Major Placements / Major Projects / Dissertation 60

Major Placements

These placements are more substantial, quite possibly overseas, and can provide the major focus for your dissertation, with a weight of 60 points. All placements will take advantage of the Centre for Cultural Studies’ significant network within the relevant professional fields and will be supervised by the module convenor or an appropriate tutor from within the Centre. Placements will result in an appropriately sized report, essay or dissertation. As such, the placement is not strictly focused on the delivery of training, but on placing you in a context within the culture industry in which you are able to make a study of specific practices. The written components provide a space for you to explore the connections between the practical issues concerning your placement and the theoretical issues addressed in the other parts of the degree. Reports may be submitted with a multimedia and/or visual component alongside the written part.

Major Projects

You'll be able to undertake projects towards your dissertation, and as a minor. These projects are self-initiated and are expected to engage with practices of culture in significant terms.

Work on projects will be supported by the provision of a Research Lab space. Rigorous work within an interdisciplinary context will be crucial. You may also develop and define the scope of project work in relation with other students, external organisations, events or practitioners.

While such self-initiated work can be of a purely experimental or speculative nature, you may also wish to establish some kind of connection with outside agencies, such as competitions, exhibitions, NGOs, and community groups.

Dissertation

10-12,000 word Written Dissertation.

Option modules

You take option modules to the value of 30 CATS. Below are a number of option modules which are especially recommended for your programme:

CU71002A Cultural Theory 30 CATS

This module asks the questions: What is cultural studies. and, what is culture? A wide range of cultural theory dealing with issues concerning technology, art media, philosophy, and the economy, are explored in order to address a number of connected questions that span the field of contemporary cultural studies. Can culture be understood per se or may we only ever consider cultures? What is the nature of culture and how should we try to understnad what is specific to contemporary culture? What is cultural studies in a changing order, whereby China, India, and Latin America - the East and the South - become the drivers of global change? We look at the cultural foundations of the global economy: at 'individualist' and 'relational' orders of value. We ask who this non-Western  other is and again, this time wth new eyes, who is 'the West'? We enquire into the Greek and Jewish-Christian transcendental God and in the process investigagte its association with the economic culture of our age; for its messianic ethos; for its critique of law; of neoliberalism and sovereignty and its everlasting obsession with justice; we think it as well for its implicit universalism and ask the broader question: what is universalism? We look at cultures of the East (especially China) and of the South. Here, as opposed to Western ontology, are questions of conduct and 'the way'; as opposed to the Western other-worldly God, immanent this-worldly, non-monotheistic, regimes of religion. We look at the immanent and relation culture of the gift and the clan, the linguistic foundations of Chinese culture. We ask, in this context, whether a new global universalism is possible.

Indicative readings

  • M. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics
  • A. Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism
  • Martin Heideggger, 'The Question Concerning Technology'
  • Francois Jullien, Detour and Access
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics
  • Marcel Mauss, The Gift
  • G Deleuze and F Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
  • Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time
  • Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • Max Weber, Religion of India

Taught by Professor Scott Lash

Autumn term

Lecture:
Monday 11am–1pm BPB LT

Seminar:
Monday 2pm–3pm RHB 350               
Tuesday 12noon–1pm LGB CR
Tuesday 2pm–3pm LGB CR

CU71011A Postcolonial Theory 30 CATS

The aim of this module is to introduce you to canonical, founding texts of Postcolonialism. Close, first-hand reading of texts is emphasised and you are required to probe the whole spectrum of postcolonial thinking - from literary theory, politics, psychoanalysis, diaspora studies, race and gender studies to philosophy, art, anthropology and history. Geopolitically, the emphasis is on the non-West and on the connections, linkages and translatory cultures forged through colonisation, movements, travel and deterritorialisation. We seek to problematise the very notion of post-coloniality - understood not as a temporal marker but more as a style of thought - as a problem.

We begin with Edward Said’s Orientalism, and ponder about the founding role of discourse in shaping geopolitical destinies and historical subjectivities. That takes us into complex questions about the complicity between power and knowledge and the legacy of slavery and colonialism in the present. These discussions are pursued throughout the seminars as we proceed from Bhabha through Spivak and Gilroy to Mbembe and Povinelli. We interrogate Bhabha’s ideas of colonial ambivalence, hybridity  and mimicry and read Fanon and Glissant in the light of a generalised, global unhomliness to mark out the time of the postcolonial ‘contramodernity’ (Gilroy). While reading Spivak and Povinelli, we interrogate the enunciative modalities of liberal discourse and look for strategic prohibitions within which would not let the subaltern speak. The question about agency and location is confronted headlong in Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe while in Timothy Mitchell’s Colonizing Egypt we debate the role of representation in non-western modernity. Through an interrogation of Deleuze’s idea of difference, we try to make sense of the postcolonial ‘right to difference’ in the context of the politics of multiculturalism. Other themes highlighted in the module are: empire, secularism, governmentality, multiculturalism, gender and sexual politics, representation, minorities in Europe and diaspora.

Indicative reading 

  • Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular, 2003
  • Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 1994
  • Sion Bignall and Paul Patton (ed.), Deleuze and the Postcolonial, 2010
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, 2000
  • Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?, 1988
  • Franz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, 2004
  • Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, 1997
  • Paul Gilroy, Against Race, 2000
  • Peter Hallward, Absolutely Postcolonial, 2002
  • Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, 2001
  • Naoki Sakai, Translation and Subjectivity: On "Japan" and Cultural Nationalism, 1997
  • Charles Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 1994

Taught by Dr Shela Sheikh 

Lecture: Tuesday 11am–1pm BPB LT
Seminar: Tuesday 2pm–3pm RHB 142

CU71022B Crisis and Critique 30 CATS

What is critical theory, and whence the notion of critique as a practical stance towards the world? Using these questions as a point of departure, this module takes critical theory as its field of inquiry. Part of the module will be devoted to investigating what critique is, starting with the etymological and conceptual affinity it shares with crisis: since the Enlightenment, so one line of argument goes, all grounds for knowledge are subject to criticism, which is understood to generate a sense of escalating historical crisis culminating in a radical renewal of the intellectual and social order. We will explore the efficacy of modern critical thought, and the concept of critiqueʼs efficacy, by examining a series of attempts to narrate and amplify states of crisis—and correspondingly transform key concepts such as self, will, time, and world—in order to provoke a transformation of society. The other part of the module will be oriented towards understanding current critical movements as part of the Enlightenment legacy of critique, and therefore as studies in the practical implications of critical readings. Key positions in critical discourse will be discussed with reference to the socio-political conditions of their formation and in the context of their provenance in the history of philosophy, literature, and cultural theory. Required readings will include works by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Benjamin and others, with suggested readings and references in lecture drawn from a variety of source materials ranging from literary
and philosophical texts to visual images, film, and architecture. Students are invited to work on their individual interests with respect to the readings. 

Indicative reading

  • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
  • Kant, Critique of Judgment
  • Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics
  • Marx, The German Ideology
  • Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy
Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morality
  • Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • Benjamin, Origin of the German Baroque Mourning Play
  • Husserl, Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology
  • Irigaray, Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche 

Taught by Dr Julia Ng

Spring term

Lectures: Monday 1pm–3pm RHB 358
Seminars: Tuesday 1pm-3pm LGB CR; Thursday 1pm–2pm LGB CR

CU71027A Biopolitics & Aesthetics 15 CATS

If, in modernity, bare life enters the stage of history and the field of politics for the first time - as the philosophers Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben have extensively argued - and we are living in a biopolitical age in which power intimately accesses and regulates this life, how do aesthetics register, mirror and contest these developments? The desire for modernist, avant-garde and critical art to burst their banks and fuse with 'everyday life', the chaos and contingency of social life, the body as a site of experience and action, parallels power's increasing need to act upon 'active subjects' and to co-opt the vitality of populations. This module will move schematically through key artists, movements and conditions of beholding, from the late 18th century until today, to explore this relationship and consider art's dual role as pioneer and antagonist of biopolitical power.

Taught by Dr Josephine Berry-Slater

Five weeks in spring term

Lectures: Monday 10am–11am LGB CR
Seminars: Monday 11am–12noon LGB CR

CU71069A Software Studies 15 CATS

Software Studies is specifically concerned with the inter-relation between the cultural, social, and the technical. The module provides key theoretical tools for understanding digital technologies and the software that underlies them. It provides an essential interface for modules that aim to link cultural and social concerns and practices with the technical.

Students will read and work with current and historical documents from the history of computing and computing culture, alongside those from cultural theory, as such this is be a uniquely interdisciplinary module that brings together and works through different approaches to the problematic of effective and inventive working in contemporary creative and social technologies.

Software studies is an interdisciplinary field that has emerged over the last decade amongst an international range of scholars and has a particular strength in Goldsmiths. It combines approaches from the arts, humanities and social sciences with those drawn from computing, in order to develop a creative and critical approach to the theories and practices of computing. Software is understood to be a core, yet under-theorised, aspect of contemporary culture and society. This module examines how software, and computing more broadly, is deeply implicated in the development of aesthetics, political forms, social agency and the generation of new forms of subjectivity. It follows a line of enquiry that draws together inventive critical thinking from technologists, hackers, computer scientists, philosophers, artists and cultural theorists, thus providing the context for a rich discussion on the nature of contemporary software cultures.

Students will write an essay or investigative report into a software system, a programming language, an aspect of the history of computing, work of software art, or other such topic.

Taught by Professor Matthew Fuller

First 5 weeks of the Autumn term

Seminar:
Wednesday 2-5pm LGB CR

CU71007A Interactive Media Critical Theory 15 or 30 CATS

Students taking this as an option can choose the full 30 CAT module, or - with a minimum of 5 week's attendance - take it as a 15 CAT option.

This module looks at the intersection of theories of communication, perception and organization for a re-thinking of the concept of interactivity in the context of digital mediation – from photography to sound, from generative architecture to open source and viral networks. The module brings together philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic concepts to develop a trans-disciplinary discussion and approach to analyse the impact of software machines on modes of interactivity. This trans-disciplinary view implies a new engagement with software media focussed not exclusively on the analysis of new media within the context of dominant and classical critical approaches to media. The module rather poses an emphasis on the trans-disciplinary process of formation and production of key concepts in the field of software media insofar as such emerging field demands a novel design of thoughts. The module draws on the transformations of media theories - from semiotic (Barthes) to postsemiotics (Pierce), from psychoanalysis (Lacan, Zizek) to schizoanalysis (Guattari), from radical media theories  (from McLuhan to tactical media) to new media theories (F.A. Kittler, P. Weibel, L. Manovich, M. Hansen, P. Levy, V. Flusser). These theories are studied according to recent approaches developed in critical thought through the works of Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Serres, Stiegler, Badiou, Grosz, Irigaray, Stengers, Massumi, Negri and in conjunction with mathematical theories of information and computing (Shannon and Weaver, Wiener, Turing, Von Neumann, Chaitin), biological theories of self-organization and nonlinear evolution (Maturana, Varela, Bateson, Margulis and Sagan), physical theories of chaos and complexity (Prigogine, Thom).  

The first part of the module will focus on the concept of interactivity by looking at the software nature of interactive media from the standpoint of cybernetics, information theory, autopoietic self-organization, nonlinear evolution to develop an ecological or machinic approach for a philosophical, aesthetic and technoscientific study of digital media. The second part of the module will examine digital aesthetics (from photography to virtual reality, digital games and sound) by discussing the difference between information and sensation, the virtual and the actual, movement and affect, visual and acoustic space, the analogical and the digital, the continual and the discrete. The third part of the module will look at media ecologies in terms of network environments as a way to examine generative architectures, peer 2 peer, free-scale and open source networks from the standpoint of algorithmic calculation, rhizomatic organizations, memetic culture and collective socialities. The module will discuss the philosophical, technoscientific and aesthetic dimensions of new media ecologies by analysing interactive artworks, online and off line installations, and digital artefacts as examples for discussion.

Indicative reading

A-L Barabási, Linked: The New Science of Networks

H Bergson, Matter and Memory

G Deleuze and F Guattari A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism & Schizophrenia

T Druckrey with A Electronica (eds), Ars Electronica: Facing the Future

F Guattari, “Machinic Heterogeneities”, in Reading Digital Culture, D Trend (ed)

V Flusser, “On the Theory of Communication”, Writings

M Fuller (ed) Software Studies

F Kittler, Literature, Media, Information Systems: Essays

P Levy, Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age

M McLuhan, Understanding Media, the Extensions of Man

R H. Maturana and J F. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: the Biological Roots of Human Understanding

B Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. Movement, Affect, Sensation

Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (eds), The New Media Reader

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

I Prigogine, The End of Certainty. Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature

M Serres, Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy

_____, The Parasite

C E Shannon. and W Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Baruch Spinoza, The Ethics

N Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

Weibel Peter and Bruno Latour, Iconoclash.Beyond the Image Wars, in Science, Religion and Art.

Online Journals

CTheory

Fiberculture

CultureMachine

Multitude

 

SO71042B Navigating Urban Life 30 CATS

This module addresses significant issues in the contemporary organisation of urban landscapes, urban life and connections between cities as well as the interface between human and architectural fabric. Drawing on specific empirical examples in based in China, Hong Kong, the US, London and parts of mainland Europe this module examines key debates in urban sociology and research. There is a strong focus on visual apprehension of cities and ways of accessing and researching cities through photography.   The following sessions have been offered in previous years: 

  • A tour of 'urban theory' from the Chicago School to the present day. This sets up the conceptual basis for the session following which, although empirically focused on specific cities, illuminate different conceptual frameworks for understanding urbanism.
  • Whose City? This examines debates concerned with the social production of space and rights to the city. An examination of ghetto urbanism in the US through Wacquant, Bourdieu, Bourgeois and the research through which this kind of urban knowledge is generated.
  • Pastness and Urban Landscape. This examines discrepant and linear notions of time/interpretations of pastness, collective memory, and how pasts are inscribed within urban landscapes. We will draw mainly on visually-led investigation of Hong Kong and London to explore these themes.
  • Post-Colonial Cities. This session examines the intersections between globalisation and colonialism in Hong Kong and in the lives of ‘skilled’ migrants from the global North. It makes extensive use of photographic narratives of Hong Kong as an iconic city landscape and the use of environmental portraiture to capture migrants’ relationships to the city.
  • Globalisation, Migration and Urban Life. Drawing on visual empirical research on mosques and African churches in London this session examines the impact of recent and current migration on commerce, religion and city landscape. It sets this in broader debates about globalisation and cities developed from the previous session.
  • Material Cultures and Multiple Globalisations. This session draws on some of the more ordinary trajectories of commodities and collaborations composing the global world through small trade between China/Hong Kong and Africa, and Europe and Africa. 
  • Mega-Cities and Non-City Zones. This session is set in China. It examines architecture, the generic city, land speculation and the dynamics between mega-cities and economic and technical development zones through some of the lives that are lived in them.
  • Urban Regeneration. This session examines the politics, debates, conceptualisation and social divisions generated and sustained in urban renewal projects. Who benefits from these projects? How do they reconstruct cities? We will draw specifically on Olympic-related redevelopments in Athens, London, and Beijing.
  • Architectural and Planning Politics. This session examines ways in which political and military decisions are embedded in architecture and planning. It draws on Weizman’s Hollow Land and asks questions about whether this involves a radical re-conceptualisation of space.
  • Mobilities. This session is concerned with movement and routes as well as the infrastructure and technologies of mobility such as bridges, roads, airports, stations, tunnels, trains, motor transport, and shipping. It asks critical questions about whether these approaches to space generate information about social morphology or social life more generally.

Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay

Convener: Anja Kanngeiser

SO71087A Introduction to Feminist Theory and Culture 30 CATS

This module introduces key debates and developments in feminist theory, cultural theory and in particular feminist cultural theory. It introduces both early debates which defined these fields and contemporary developments and departures. This core module does not attempt to map the field of gender scholarship chronologically, nor can it be exhaustive, but instead extrapolates a number of themes around which some of the most influential and defining work has emerged. Students will be introduced to social constructivist and post-structuralist  perspectives; debates on feminism, ethnicity and the critique of universalism; key questions in relation to feminism, biology and reproductive technology; debates on family, kinship, and psycho-analysis; the emergence of post-colonial feminism;  debates on gender and promotional culture to debates on post-feminist popular culture. Students will also be introduced to the emergence of queer theory and debates regarding the relationship between queer theory and feminist theory.  

Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay

Module convenor: Nirmal Puwar

SO71108B Cultural Policy and City Branding 30 CATS

Cultural policy, especially at local level, has been called on to play an increasing set of functions in recent decades. Cities, in particular post-industrial cities in the West, have seen in ‘culture’ a lever for regeneration, one that could be harnessed by targeted policies. However, all the main concepts at play – city, culture and policy – have been subjected to increasing scrutiny in social theory and research: expansion but also problematisation of the notion of culture; diversification and renewed centrality of the city as physical, social and political context; reformulation of cultural policy beyond regulations and policy process towards wider issues of governmentality, democracy and participation.

The module will present recent theoretical advances as well as empirical findings on these topics, focusing on key themes such as culture-led regeneration, place branding, cultural taste, and others relevant to the understanding of contemporary cities. These key themes will also be explored through a case study approach, aimed both at providing a space for in-depth investigation, and inspiration for students to identify and select contemporary cases to be developed for their final essay.

Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay

Module convenor: Monica Sassatelli

CU71007A Interactive Media Critical Theory 15 or 30 CATS

Students taking this as an option can choose the full 30 CAT module, or - with a minimum of 5 week's attendance - take it as a 15 CAT option.

This module looks at the intersection of theories of communication, perception and organization for a re-thinking of the concept of interactivity in the context of digital mediation – from photography to sound, from generative architecture to open source and viral networks. The module brings together philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic concepts to develop a trans-disciplinary discussion and approach to analyse the impact of software machines on modes of interactivity. This trans-disciplinary view implies a new engagement with software media focussed not exclusively on the analysis of new media within the context of dominant and classical critical approaches to media. The module rather poses an emphasis on the trans-disciplinary process of formation and production of key concepts in the field of software media insofar as such emerging field demands a novel design of thoughts. The module draws on the transformations of media theories - from semiotic (Barthes) to postsemiotics (Pierce), from psychoanalysis (Lacan, Zizek) to schizoanalysis (Guattari), from radical media theories  (from McLuhan to tactical media) to new media theories (F.A. Kittler, P. Weibel, L. Manovich, M. Hansen, P. Levy, V. Flusser). These theories are studied according to recent approaches developed in critical thought through the works of Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Serres, Stiegler, Badiou, Grosz, Irigaray, Stengers, Massumi, Negri and in conjunction with mathematical theories of information and computing (Shannon and Weaver, Wiener, Turing, Von Neumann, Chaitin), biological theories of self-organization and nonlinear evolution (Maturana, Varela, Bateson, Margulis and Sagan), physical theories of chaos and complexity (Prigogine, Thom).  

The first part of the module will focus on the concept of interactivity by looking at the software nature of interactive media from the standpoint of cybernetics, information theory, autopoietic self-organization, nonlinear evolution to develop an ecological or machinic approach for a philosophical, aesthetic and technoscientific study of digital media. The second part of the module will examine digital aesthetics (from photography to virtual reality, digital games and sound) by discussing the difference between information and sensation, the virtual and the actual, movement and affect, visual and acoustic space, the analogical and the digital, the continual and the discrete. The third part of the module will look at media ecologies in terms of network environments as a way to examine generative architectures, peer 2 peer, free-scale and open source networks from the standpoint of algorithmic calculation, rhizomatic organizations, memetic culture and collective socialities. The module will discuss the philosophical, technoscientific and aesthetic dimensions of new media ecologies by analysing interactive artworks, online and off line installations, and digital artefacts as examples for discussion.

Indicative reading

A-L Barabási, Linked: The New Science of Networks

H Bergson, Matter and Memory

G Deleuze and F Guattari A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism & Schizophrenia

T Druckrey with A Electronica (eds), Ars Electronica: Facing the Future

F Guattari, “Machinic Heterogeneities”, in Reading Digital Culture, D Trend (ed)

V Flusser, “On the Theory of Communication”, Writings

M Fuller (ed) Software Studies

F Kittler, Literature, Media, Information Systems: Essays

P Levy, Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age

M McLuhan, Understanding Media, the Extensions of Man

R H. Maturana and J F. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: the Biological Roots of Human Understanding

B Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. Movement, Affect, Sensation

Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (eds), The New Media Reader

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

I Prigogine, The End of Certainty. Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature

M Serres, Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy

_____, The Parasite

C E Shannon. and W Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Baruch Spinoza, The Ethics

N Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

Weibel Peter and Bruno Latour, Iconoclash.Beyond the Image Wars, in Science, Religion and Art.

Online Journals

CTheory

Fiberculture

CultureMachine

Multitude

 

Other option modules, by Department

‌You may prefer to look through the full range of optional modules available across Goldsmiths departments. Please note that not all the modules listed below may be open to you - your final selection will depend upon spaces available and timetable compatibility.

 





Programme specification

To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification.

Graduate profile

Ho Kyung

"The MA opened my eyes to multi-layered arts and cultural scenes, and diverse approaches to culture industry. I think one of the most important experiences and achievements at Goldsmiths was rebuilding and refiring my enthusiasm for the arts and culture, extending my theoretical knowledge and encouraging me to develop potential and my own perspective in creative industry areas. Since coming back to South Korea in 2011, I've been writing a book on the context of sustainable cultural practices. I was also involved in a city regeneration research project of a local government in Korea, and I am currently managing a cultural tour programme in Seoul, Korea."

Bryony Beynon

Age: 26
Nationality: British
Undergraduate degree and course: English and Cultural Studies at Sussex University
Previous job before MA: Public Relations Executive
Current Job: Programme Officer at Arts Council England

“I had been looking to further expand on my interest in cultural theory and was uncertain if PR was really for me. This opportunity to study at Goldsmiths came along at just the right moment.

I was interested in the focus on production and organisational critique, and the fact that it brought together theory and practice in a meaningful way with the scope of the final projects.

Throughout the course I was constantly challenged in my thinking and forced to consider multiple angles by our tutors Matthew Fuller and Josie Berry Slater. The opportunity to attend seminars with Angela McRobbie hugely informed my thinking and illuminated the path for an intersectional radical feminist critique of the culture industries.

A particularly memorable moment was walking through the land that would become the Olympic park. Walking from Stratford to Mile End with cultural critic Anthony Iles completely upturned everything I thought I knew about the Olympics. It’s a walk I've taken many friends on since, a public footpath route that has become smaller and smaller as the Games preparation has progressed.

For my major project I spent a month at the office of a volunteer-run magazine based in San Francisco, mapping the knowledge exchange, working hierarchies and modes of production at play. This experience taught me the value of reflexivity when it came to any kind of ethnographical work.

The knowledge I gained from my MA has been absolutely invaluable to me in my current job. My position involves running a pilot programme that offers advice and loan funding to creative businesses. It's ultimately about balancing creativity and life under capitalism, the very same debate that struck at the heart of so much of what we debated on the MA course.

I am currently working on a community project to create an autonomous creative space in South London that will link up independent musicians and artists with learning disabled adults and other social groups that have trouble accessing the arts. My goal at the moment involves getting that off the ground with successful fundraising and grants, and creating a sustainable proposition for that space to exist on a permanent basis.

I would advise prospective students to be ready to think critically and look beyond your own world when it comes to what we mean by 'culture.'”

Interviewed by Claire Shaw

John McKieran

Nationality: British
Undergraduate degree and course: Business and sustainable innovation at the Open University
Current Job: Founder of Platform-7 – a micro events company that hosts live performances in everyday spaces

“I wanted to find an MA that made sense to what I was trying to discover. Of the three courses I looked at, I felt Goldsmiths was perfect for me and what I was thinking about.

I set off with a plan to mess up my own thinking in the first term, rebuild it in the second term, and find out something interesting in the third term. I was interested in the performer and audience, and what that audience was. But as I got into first term, I realised there was a third part, which was space - so I decided to focus on the relationship between audience, performer and space.

I had an absolutely fantastic time and met some amazing people who have become great friends since. The course took me on a journey that I was really wanting to go on. I was not really interested in grades, but more on comments, and talking to people and doing stuff.

The course has helped me to contextualize things better. It gave me a whole new set of thoughts, and opened up a whole different line of threads. I think the course makes you braver, so as not to be scared of not knowing.

What most people agree with who go to Goldsmiths is that it is like nowhere else. People think quite abstract at Goldsmiths, and you are always being challenged by what you think. People do not shut you down, but challenge their perception as well as your own.

Cumulatively, there were a lot of things that challenged my thoughts. I came across a lot of philosophy which I had never heard of before, and I learnt how to read it. Production of Space was a particularly important book to me, as well as Foucault’s Discipline and Punish - it is truly a fantastic piece of writing, and you cannot help change the way you think after reading it.

The course has influenced me hugely. At the end of the MA, I allowed myself three months to make a decision to see if Platform-7 was a viable idea. What I got out of my MA, was that it was viable. We now do big cemetery events around Remembrance week in November, which is likely to go national this year. The idea is to have fine art, poetry, contemporary dance, and classical music situated around a large cemetery in the evening,  with people walking though it and coming across these small pieces which are displayed and performed for one minute at a time, to inspire people to keep moving on.

This course is for people who want to be challenged, and also want to challenge themselves and question their own thinking - you just need to throw yourself into it.”

Interviewed by Claire Shaw

Ashley Wong

Age: 27
Nationality: Canadian
Undergraduate degree and course: BFA Digital Image/ Sound and the Fine Arts at Concordia University, Montreal
Previous job before MA: Project Manager, Videotage - Hong Kong's media art organisation
Current Job: Digital Producer at Somewhat, a mobile-first creative agency based in Shoreditch and co-founder of DOXA, an international research collective

“I thought the MA course provided a good mix of theory and practice. It was experimental and merged a range of interests in cultural production that was cross-disciplinary.

I was actually accepted onto a Cultural Analysis course at the University of Amsterdam, but decided to choose this course at Goldsmiths because I felt it was more forward-thinking in its content and form, and more open to other kinds of practices beyond straight academia or exhibition making.

Studying at the onset of the recession provided me with new perspectives and allowed me to think critically about how the economy operates and the role of culture in society today.

During the course I particularly enjoyed reading and learning new areas of thought, which I didn't know how to articulate in my own practice. The texts: ‘Immaterial Labour’ by Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Capital and Language’ by Christian Marrazi, and ‘Craftsmen’ by Richard Sennett, really inspired me and challenged my thoughts.

I now understand my work better within a larger context of social practices, but I have come to realise it is not about following particular cultural trends, but rather collectively coming together with common ideas. My ideas of culture and practice are now much broader in relation to the global economy.

In the future I would like to start my own company or organisation that is self-sustaining and community led, between public and private that supports both research and practice/production. I feel for it to be effective, it must be global and use digital as a tool for knowledge production and distribution.

I would advise prospective students interested in this course to think long and hard about what they want to get out of it, and why they are doing the course. I also think it is important to visit the university and meet the professors to get a feel for the place beforehand.”

Interviewed by Claire Shaw

Indicative Reading

  • Scott Lash and Celia Lury, Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things, Cambridge: Polity, 2006
  • Angela McRobbie, British Fashion Design: Rag Trade or Image Industry?, Routledge, 198
  • Andrew Ross, No Collar, the Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs, New York: Basic Books, 2003
  • Nicholas Bouriaud, Relational Aesthetics, Bordeux: Editions du Réel, 2002
  • Matthew Fuller, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005
  • Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Immaterial Labour’, in Radical Thought in Italy, Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt (eds), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996
  • Geert Lovink, My First Recession, Rotterdam:V2_publishers/NAI, 2004
  • Jean Francois Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, London: Athlone, 1995
  • McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto, Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2005

Content last modified: 29 Sep 2014

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