Canadian Association for American Studies Conference 2013


ANNOUNCING: CAAS 2013 Plenary Speakers

Dr. Randy Martin, Chair of Art and Public Policy at Tisch School of the Arts.

Note: Dr. Martin's talk, originally scheduled for Thursday, October 24,  has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 26, 5:00-6:30 PM.

"Risk Remade: Social Logics of the Derivative"

Making money for its own sake has been the watchword of capitalism for centuries. But money-making entails risks and those risks needed to be kept at bay. Finance would play the part of this sentinel. By the early seventies, the world's financial architecture came undone, giving way to new methods for pricing and profiting from risk. Risk made its way from  investment banking to everyday life as governments got out of the business of social security and increasingly shifted the burdens of life's uncertainties onto the domestic population, who were now charged with managing their own existential and monetary portfolio. The advent of derivatives, financial instruments that price and bundle risk attributes, came to operate in many ways that money standards once had to facilitate flows and movements of capital. But finance did not simply colonize daily life, the seventies also culminated in myriad expressions of decolonization, some of which can be read through risk based practices of bodily movement such as postmodern dance, hip hop and skateboarding, which emerge from the ruins of abandoned urban, industrial and leisure spaces that are repurposed and re-imagined. If the derivative bears a new form of social wealth that can be imagined to different ends, these other ways in which populations incorporate risk offer a glimpse at what the wealth of society might entail seen from the perspective of those who traffic in embodied forms of creativity and innovation that money now claims as its purposes and ethos.

Dr. Martin has taught and performed in theatre, dance, and clowning. He is the author of many books on economics and culture, including The Financialization of Everyday Life (2002). His latest book is Under New Management: Universities, Administrative Labor, and the Professional Turn.

Martin recently spoke at the inaugural meeting of The Brooklyn Commune Project. Watch the videoSee further bio information.


Dr. Jim Stanford, Economist, Research Department of CAW (the Canadian Auto Workers union). Friday, October 25th, 7:00 PM.

“Supply, Demand, and Life: Why Conventional Economics is So Wrong About Society.”

Dr. Stanford is founder of the Progressive Economics Forum, author of Economics for Everyone (2008), and a columnist for The Globe & Mail and He holds economics degrees from the New School for Social Research in New York, the University of Cambridge and the University of Calgary.

Also see Stanford’s website, Twitter account, and a video of Stanford addressing AMPA 2012.




OCTOBER 24 – 27, 2013



Sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies


“Total Money Makeover”$: Culture and the Economization of Everything

Economic models now occupy a central place in the analysis of American culture. The “hegemony of economic explanations of cultural practices” (Koritz 1999) has been with us for some time. Concepts such as “cultural capital,” “the literary marketplace,” and “modes of exchange” are regularly deployed to demystify culture’s relationship with power and profit. As useful as economic models have been for opening up new avenues of analysis in American studies, we wonder if this turn to economy in American studies doesn’t privilege economic models in ways that ought to be scrutinized. Indeed, it can be argued that the recent financial crises in the United States and Europe are consequences of unquestioned faith in the explanatory and organizing power of economics as a field of knowledge. We must ask whether the economization of everything, along with the dominance of economic models for analysis, has deprived culture, and cultural study more generally, of modes of resistance and a distinctive field of action. Is it possible or desireable, without reverting to an untenable idealism, to recover a sense of culture as a privileged domain?

The 2013 CAAS conference invites proposals for papers on the topic of culture and economics, but especially papers that privilege culture as a field of knowledge and subject the economic to its critical gaze.

Papers on other topics relevant to the interdisciplinary study of American culture, history, and society are also welcome.

Please submit abstracts of 300-words, along with a brief bio, to the conference organizers, Victoria Lamont and Kevin McGuirk, Department of English, University of Waterloo, at caas2013 [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca (caas2013 [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca) by March 15, 2013.  Presentation time for papers is 20 minutes maximum. Panel submissions will also be considered.


$ With apologies to Dave Ramsey.

Some points of departure:

  • What is value?
  • economics as an art
  • materialisms (other than the economic)
  • alternative economics
  • ecologies versus economies
  • material culture between art and economics
  • art and commodification
  • art without money
  • art and class
  • art and philanthropy
  • “Money is a kind of poetry” (Wallace Stevens)/ Poetry is a kind of money
  • culture and economic anxiety
  • economic prosperity and cultural prosperity
  • figures of poverty and negation in culture
  • figures of the economic in culture (cultural capital, etc.)
  • the art market, the literary market
  • the artistic career as an economic phenomenon
  • economic metaphors we live by
  • making sense and making money
  • semiotics of money
  • culture and/as waste
  • the humanities, social sciences, and the commercialization of research
  • government and the subsidy of culture
  • stories of the economy in media and art
  • thematics of money, exchange, etc.
  • things, thingness and monetary value
  • histories of money
  • money and political cultures
  • labour and art/ leisure and art
  • “cultural work”/ cultural leisure
  • religion with and against profit
  • piety and/as resistance
  • “the creative class” and/or the uncreative
  • collecting culture for and against profit
  • idling, loafing and other unproductive activity
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