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Special Issue: Cultural Literacies in Translation

Deadline for Abstracts: 15 August 2019

Editorial Information

Guest Editor:
Kris Rutten

Prof K G Tomaselli, University of Johannesburg, South Africa



Critical Arts

On-going public and academic debate has focused on the importance of knowledge about culture and the arts, what is generally referred to as “cultural literacy”. Often the debate focuses on an alleged “lack” of such knowledge. Whereas traditional approaches to cultural literacy emphasized the importance of a shared national culture, the reading of books and the literary canon, in recent years there has been an increasing focus on what cultural “literacies” can imply within our current globalised, pluralized and media saturated societies. While the conception that the arts constitute (Western) High Culture has for a long time already been strongly criticized from a broad range of perspectives, this idea is still reflected in more traditional approaches to the importance and functions of culture and the arts. However, contemporary societal transitions raise a number of important questions about the specific content of cultural literacies (i.e. what is still considered to be relevant and valuable knowledge about culture and the arts?), about the potential functions of culture and the arts for society (i.e. what is considered to be the societal and educational value of knowledge about and engagement with the arts?) and about the specific role of cultural institutions today (i.e. how do cultural institutions address their roles as mediator and go-between of knowledge about the arts?).  

This special issue seeks to reframe the discussion about cultural literacies from a number of different perspectives. (1) The concept of literacy itself has been studied as a normative concept, which is embedded in specific perspectives on economic progress, political democracy, and social, cultural and educational mobility. This has been referred to as the so-called “literacy myth” and there has been a growing body of research that critically addresses the question of what it implies to “become literate” and on whose terms, for example in relation to notions such as decolonisation and intersectionality. This implies that if we want to explore cultural literacies as important “equipment” for people to navigate the complexities of contemporary society, we need to extend its content beyond traditional conceptions of culture and the arts so as to be able to include a wider range of relevant dimensions. (2) What counts as a legitimate argument when discussing the value of knowledge about the arts is always related to particular perspectives on its societal functions. This implies we need a critical examination of the claims that are made within the public debate for the “importance” and “value” of culture and the arts for society and therefore we also need to focus on the larger societal context in which this debate is taking place. (3) If we explore the question of how cultural literacies, conceptualised from a critical perspective, can be enhanced by focusing on the potential of cultural institutions, then this implies we need to focus on the increasingly changing and sometimes also contested roles of cultural institutions as traditional mediators of culture and the arts.

For this special issue, we therefore seek contributions that explore how cultural literacies are currently defined, practiced, contested and negotiated in relation to different contexts by focusing on the following discussions:

  • What is currently considered to be valuable knowledge about culture, art and aesthetics? How is this knowledge being challenged and how is it redefined? What does this imply for art education and for the curriculum in general?
  • How are the societal functions of culture and the arts framed in the public and academic debate? What are the societal and educational values that are attributed to knowledge about and engagement with the arts?
  • How is the role of cultural and art institutions changing as traditional mediators of knowledge about culture and the arts? What new forms of art mediation are emerging or how can such new forms be conceptualized?

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Submission Instructions

Deadline for abstracts: Please send your abstracts of 300 words by August 15th 2019 to Kris.Rutten@UGent.be

Notification of selected abstracts by: September 1st 2019.

Deadline for article submission: based on the selection of the abstracts full papers will need to be submitted by: November 30th 2019.

Information and instructions for authors: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/RCRC 

All completed manuscripts MUST be uploaded onto the online manuscript portal Scholar One. Go to Critical Arts on the Taylor and Francis site. There is an option on the top left pane of the screen that says ‘submit’, select this then click ‘submit online’ and follow the prompts.

Further inquiries about the special issue: Kris.Rutten@UGent.be 

Alternatively, contact the Critical Arts editorial office at criticalarts@ukzn.ac.za or the editor-in-chief, Keyan Tomaselli at keyant@uj.ac.za