Revisiting Critical Theory

The full line-up for the 6th International Critical Theory Conference of Rome has now been announced and I see a few familiar names on there from my time at Essex when critical theory was my full-time gig.  As the main international conference in this field it would have been great for me to go while I was a PhD student, but I didn’t have the money and the stipend allocated to PhD students for travel wouldn’t even have covered the flight.  Furthermore, I’m not sure my research was ever polished enough to take to an event like this during the time I was working on it; it only really got finished right at the point when I handed it in and ever since then I haven’t had the heart to really engage with the work again since then.

This is partly about shame:  the kind of shame I think a lot of PhDs feel towards their project because they feel they could have worked harder.  But it’s also about feeling that working on something which is unlikely to lead to significant publication, funding or employment prospects is not a good use of time.  Those who get into academia without realising the competitiveness that characterises the career of a (relatively) young researcher might like the idea of working on whatever takes their fancy but the reality is rarely like this.

Anyway, I am pleased that, thanks to being awarded some money from IET‘s staff development fund I will be able to attend for the first time.  I also think that I will have a bit of critical distance from the work that I will present (on ‘social pathologies’) which will probably make for a more enjoyable time all around.  And, of course, I’ll be blogging at least some of it here!

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