Student Organizing Committee

About the Student Organizing Committee (SOC)

The Cultural Studies Student Organizing Committee is a GMU student-run organization, whose membership consists exclusively of CS students. This organization is independent of the cultural studies program, but often works alongside it to promote a vibrant intellectual, political, and social community for students, faculty, and staff. The SOC hosts a number of extra-curricular events such as workshops, panel discussions, professional development seminars, and its annual graduate student conference. In addition to these events, the SOC oversees all student concerns, and represents our student body with GAPSA (the Graduate and Professional Student Association: and the broader GMU community.

In order to be successful and maintain its status as a student organization receiving funds from GMU, the SOC requires active student involvement. Please get involved, attend meetings, and consider becoming an SOC officer.

For more information, download the SOC constitution.

Past SOC Events

Critiquing Culture

The 10th Annual Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Featured Speakers on Keynote "The Uses and Abuses of Neoliberalism" Panel: Paul Smith, Denise Albanese, Johanna Bockman, & moderator Craig Willse.

The 10th annual conference focused on a theme of neoliberalism, with panels addressing the intersections of theoretical and practical implications of neoliberalism with visual culture and media, cultural identity, and forms of resistance. 

The conference featured a collaboration with graduate students from American University's Photography program who exhibited a series addressing the broad theme of consumer culture and neoliberalism. 

Critiquing Culture

The Ninth Annual Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Featured Speakers on Methodology Panel: Johanna BockmanJessica Scarlata and Tim Gibson.  

The 9th annual conference was the fourth conference committed to a broad cultural studies theme in order to foster vigorous discussions among emerging cultural studies scholars.  The conference featured a collaboration with graduate students of the American University Photography program who will exhibit a body of work based on the theme "consumer culture." 

Panel topics included: technology and political economy, historical revisionism in media, the politics of space, theory and praxis of critique, art and activism,  and gender, sexuality, and representation.

Critiquing Culture

The Eighth Annual Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Featured Keynote Speaker, Cindi Katz, "Superman, Tiger Mother: Young People and the Cultural Politics of Aspiration Management"

The 8th annual conference was the third conference committed to a broad cultural studies theme in order to foster vigorous discussions amongst emerging cultural studies scholars. Panels included: Policing the Body, Political Economy & New Media, Sexuality/Gender/Contestation, The Politics of Aesthetics, Production of Identity in Media, Space & Place.  

Critiquing Culture

The Seventh Annual Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Featured Keynote Speaker, Sarah Banet-Weiser, "Locating Critique: Culture and Markets for Affect"

The 7th annual conference was the second conference committed to a broad cultural studies theme in order to foster vigorous discussions amongst emerging cultural studies scholars. This approach proved successful in 2012 and continues to attract a large number of high-quality research papers from graduate students in a range of disciplines. Panels included: 'Video Nasties' and Transgressive Representations; Capital Flows & Agency; 'Work It': Media, Identity, & Politics; Managing Bodies & Space; The Cultural Production of Erotica; Structures of Violence; Aesthetics and Politics; and a special panel on Ethics & Political Economy.

Critiquing Culture

The Sixth Annual Graduate Student Conference

Friday, September 21, 2012 and Saturday, September 22, 2012

Featured Keynote Speaker, Doug Henwood, "Reflections on the Current Disorder"

The 6th annual conference marked an important shift from thematic annual conferences to broader cultural studies ones. Considering 2012 was an election year, a special panel was held on "Culture & American Electoral Politics." Other panels included: Body Politic/Political Bodies; Illegitimates, Fakes, Lies, & Counterfeits; Commodity Fantasies; Contemporary National Imaginaries; Aesthetics & Dissidence; Media Frontiers; and Neoliberalism, Digitality, and the City.

Ecological Inequalities & Interventions: Contemporary Environmental Practices

The Fifth Annual Graduate Student Conference

Thursday, September 22, 2011 and Friday, September 23, 2011

Featured Keynote Speaker, Timothy Luke, "Hashing It Over: Green Governmentality and the Political Economy of Food"

Also featured Crystal Bartolovich as a special colloquium speaker in connection with the conference, "Commons and the Limits of 'Biopolitical Production'"

The 5th annual conference expanded upon previous years by incorporating several related events including a professional panel that addressed how to "make ecology work" and a art opening, "EcoCultures," as curated by Mark Cooley, an assistant professor of New Media at GMU's School of Art. Conference panels included: Theorizing Radical Environmental Activism; Discourse, Representation, Ecology; Environmental Policy; and Ecological Alienation.

The conference proceedings were published in a special edition of Public Knowledge Journal.

k(NO)w tomorrow: Contradictions of Imagining the Future

The Fourth Annual Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Featured Keynote Speaker, Phillip Wegner, "'The Greatest of these is Love...' Utopia and the Event in Roadside Picnic and Stalker."

Human history has had no shortage of fantasies of perfect worlds, or of dystopian visions that form their obverse. Even today, when the notion of "progress" is subject to fraught debate, utopian hopes and dystopian warnings can be found in discourses ranging from advertising to religion, film to cable news.

The fourth graduate student interdisciplinary conference sought to explore the idea of utopia, as well as dystopia - the aesthetic, ethical, and political implications of these concepts. It considered historical and contemporary utopian communities, as well as representations of utopia and dystopia in film, literature, television, and music. Papers presented considered the relevance and efficacy of thinking utopias and dystopias within the context of academic research. Panels included: Discourse and Progress; Allohistories and Retrofutures; Consumption and the Utopian Impulse; and Subjectivity and the Perfect Body.

Manufacturing Happiness

The Third Annual Graduate Conference

September 26th, 2009

Featured Keynote Speaker, Lauren Berlant

This conference considered the practices, institutions, and products that promise happiness or "the good life." The wide-ranging contexts for investigation included but were not limited to: the social positions within the family, home, workplace, community, or nation-state; geographical and global considerations of institutional development and affiliation; the political economy of corporate training models; cultural capital and legitimation; media and mediation (print, television, DVD, Internet, radio, etc.); religious connections and origins; the confirmation and construction of identities (gender, physical, class, spiritual, national, sexual, and race) in social or political realms; and the rise and intensity of ecological subjectivities.

Histories of Violence

The Second Annual Graduate Conference

October 18th, 2008

Featured Keynote Speaker, Robin Wagner-Pacifici, "The 9/11 Commission Report as History."

The manifestation of violence in political, social, and economic realms was the central focus of this conference. It also explored the various roles violence plays in the relation between these realms in any specific juncture, past or present. Lastly, it sought to examine the ways in which violence is theorized, enacted, represented and obscured, and how we come to understand the role of historic violence in the construction of the contemporary cultural conjuncture, as well as how various histories influence the ways in which we relate to and theorize violence today. Panels included: Violence and Aesthetics; Structural Violence; (Re)Narrating Violence; and War.

The Politics of Cultural Programming

The First Annual Graduate Conference

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

The first annual CS conference interrogated the politics of cultural programming in public spaces, considering a wide range of institutions such as museums and festivals, the performing arts, sporting events, multicultural and/or ethnically specific celebrations, gigs and club nights, and tourist spectacles. Guiding questions included but were not limited to: How is the knowledge of cultural programming produced in and through institutions? How does cultural programming produce knowledge? How do cultural institutions interpellate performative identities of race, class, gender and sexuality? How do we understand labor in the context of cultural events? What are the ideological stakes of cultural programming, and what is its political economy? What kind of subject and desire does cultural programming produce?

Thematic panels included: Burning Man, NASCAR, and The Olympics; Public Spectacles: Building Culture in the City; and Programming Art, Faith, and Politics in the Museum. The conference concluded with a Plenary Panel featuring: Dr. Sue Taylor, Anthropology, American University; Matthew Borlik, Editor of the City Lights section of the Washington City Paper; Edgar Endress, MFA, Professor of Digital Arts, George Mason University; and our own Dr. Alison Landsberg, History and Art History, George Mason University.

Several of the papers from the conference were turned into a book, The Politics of Cultural Programming in Public Spaces (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Other SOC Sponsored Events:

"The Stuart Hall Project" Film Screening & Discussion

Thursday, April 10, 2014 

The Cultural Studies SOC hosted a film screening and discussion of "The Stuart Hall Project."  The 90 minute film was followed by a 30 minute open discussion with participants from Cultural Studies, History, and other departments and programs at GMU.    

bell hooks

Monday, March 17th, 2008

The Cultural Studies SOC was a sponsor of bell hooks' visit to Mason. She spoke about the role of higher education in promoting participatory democracy and social justice. Her talk was based on "Democratic Education," a chapter from her book, Teaching Community: a Pedagogy of Hope.

What is the role of the university?: (inter)disciplinary inquiries

March 20th, 2008

As a continuation of the discussion about how universities are administered and the way that individual faculty members perceive of their role within the university, this event was intended to be an open inquiry into the present and future roles of disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs in public universities. This panel included representatives from several of George Mason's innovative interdisciplinary programs: Dr. Nance Lucas, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of New Century College;Dr. Zofia Burr, Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies and Director of the Honors Program in General Education; andDr. Roger Lancaster, Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies and Director of the Cultural Studies Ph.D. Program.