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<nettime-ann> CFP - Hard Times: Austerity and Popular Culture

Hard Times: Austerity and Popular Culture

Edited by Helen Davies and Claire O’Callaghan

“I said pretend you've got no money, she just laughed and said oh
you're so funny. I said yeah? Well I can't see anyone else smiling in
here.” (“Common People”, Pulp)

“I decree today that life
Is simply taking and not giving
England is mine - it owes me a living” (“Still Ill”, The Smiths)

“Folks don't laugh so loud when you've a grand in your back pocket.”
(The Full Monty)

Although the British Prime Minister David Cameron popularised the
renowned axiom ‘the age of austerity’ in a speech of 2009, political
discourse has long given shape to popular rhetoric on the subject. The
sentiments of ‘make do and mend’ and ‘boom and bust’ offers two such
examples that have filtered into popular and national conscious.
Indeed, there have been memorable occasions when political parties
have sought to appropriate the vehicle of popular culture to
articulate their agendas; who can forget Tony Blair’s use of the
D:Ream dance anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ as part of the Labour
Party’s Manifesto in the 1996 General Election, for example?

However, political idiom is not the sole medium to express the effects
of austerity, recession and the global economic crisis in contemporary
society. From Jarvis Cocker’s glamorisation of the sexual tension
between the ‘haves’ and have nots’ in Pulp’s ‘Common People’, to
Morrissey’s cynical yet  dulcet tones espousing what today’s
Government might  describe as the scourge of benefit culture in The
Smith’s ‘Still Ill’, popular culture has sought continually  to
explore and engage with the social and cultural manifestations of
recession and austerity. John Self, the protagonist of Martin Amis’s
Money learned hard lessons about ‘maxed out’ credit cards in the
Thatcherite Yuppie culture of the 1980s, but the summer of 2013 will
see Kirstie Allsopp share her austerity-inspired know-how with
prime-time audiences in the Channel 4 television series Fill Your
House For Free.

Our edited book collection, Hard Times: Austerity and Popular Culture
seeks to map the diverse ways in which austerity is—and has
been—reflected in and by popular culture. We solicit submissions on
any aspect of austerity in popular culture that can offer new and
innovative insights into its representation and ideologies.

In what ways have literature, film and television, and music (amongst
other cultural modes) given expression to austerity? How are its
effects conveyed? What commentaries does popular culture offer on,
about or towards the age of austerity? How has the expression of
austerity in popular culture changed over time, and what lessons about
representations of austerity in popular culture from the past can be
learnt in the present? Can popular culture have a significant
influence in shifting our attitudes towards political discourses of

In soliciting submissions from across the arts and humanities, the
editors welcome submissions that could consider the following themes:

·         Representing recession

·         Credit and spending culture

·         Boom and bust – individual and cultural

·         The Gendering of austerity

·         Thrift chic

·         Self-sufficiency vs. spending cuts

·         The austere family

·         Race, disability, and/or class and austerity

·         Benefits culture(s)

·         Nostalgia and austerity

·         Representing contemporary austerity through the past

·         Unemployment and/or poverty

·         Youth and austerity

·         Revolution, revolt and protest against austere times

Please submit abstracts of 600 words and a short biographical note to
both editors, Dr Helen Davies ( and Dr Claire
O’Callaghan ( by 31st January 2014. If accepted,
completed chapters of 6000 words will be expected by 1st September
2014. A proposal will be submitted to I.B. Tauris from whom we have a
received an expression of interest.

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