At their 18th annual conference, the Cultural Studies Association honored our very own Professor Paul Smith for his decades of exemplary scholarship and contributions not just to the CSA but also to Cultural Studies as a field. In a plenary session held in Dr. Smith’s honor, some of his former students and colleagues, including the current president of the CSA Helen Kapstein, spoke glowingly about Dr. Smith’s scholarship, his influence on their own work, and their personal relationships with their friend and sometimes mentor.
Dr. Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, spoke at length about his friendship with Dr. Smith while they were in grad school together. Dr. Ross spoke at length about his old friends love for poetry and praised his organizational efforts in helping to form the Cultural Studies department at George Mason and the work he did during his tenure as president of the CSA. Of Dr. Smith’s research, Marian Aguiar, associate professor of literary and cultural studies at Carnegie Mellon University, said that he “pushes us out of comfortable formulations—his call for cultural studies to be invested as well as critical is an important one at this time.”
Many of Professor Paul Smith’s former students spoke with admiration for his pedagogical skills. GMU Cultural Studies alumna Olga Herrera said that she felt she was “intellectually indebted to him for opening [her] to entirely new ways of thinking about culture and power.” While his former students who spoke praised Dr. Smith as an academic and a teacher, many also spoke of their enduring friendships with their former teacher. One student of Dr. Smith’s from his time at Carnegie Mellon University described him as “brilliant” and “cool,” like the “love child of Antonio Gramsci and Brian Ferry” before expressing how lucky he felt to be Dr. Smith’s friend 30 years after their first class together.
Professor Paul Smith has been working with the Cultural Studies Association for the past 15 years and served as the president of the organization from 2016 to 2018. In 1995, Dr. Smith joined Cultural Studies department here at George Mason University; 25 years later, he is still a well-loved and well-respected member of our core faculty.
The full plenary session can be seen below.
October 20, 2020