Mainstream media representations of celebrities remain problematic, as excited discussions regarding the recent funeral of singer Karel Gott have demonstrated. The appraisal of his long-term career has been divided into two extreme positions: uncritical admiration for the idol who spread joy under different political regimes on one hand and condemnation of his kitschy art associated with his selling out under these regimes on the other. What the overall debate has confirmed, is that stars and celebrities of popular culture can become symbols of any given period.
The focus of the conference is on mainstream culture, which can be defined as the most popular, widespread, most accessible and understandable cultural expressions across society. Following Gramsci’s and Hall’s approaches, it is the mainstream that is considered the essential sphere where ideological hegemony is negotiated.
The aims of the conference are twofold : firstly, in its role of capturing the ‘spirit of the time’ (Zeitgeist), the conference plans to examine mainstream culture as a vital source of knowledge for unveiling social values and (attempted) changes and secondly to critically explore Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as a specific phenomenon thereof. Recently, CEE has featured in public debates due to its common hostile responses to EU migration and asylum policies, the ridiculing of climate change movements, the promoting of “traditional” family values and attempts to introduce illiberal democracy. While some social sciences and humanities have paid extensive attention to these issues, culturally oriented research has dealt with the distinctive features of Central and Eastern Europe to a much smaller degree.
To address this shortfall the conference would like to ask the question whether popular culture in CEE manifests any specific values and beliefs inherent in these respective societies. What exactly are they? Do these values and beliefs come from any particular long-term regional legacies? How do local and regional CEE mainstream media productions interact with cultural imports from wider world (or globalizing) cultures? What kind of impacts can be identified? This conference is explicitly opening up the discussion and inclusion of all research perspectives on mainstream cultural production.
"Mainstream! Popular Culture in Central and Eastern Europe"
Fünfte Konferenz des tschechischen Zentrums für Popkulturelle Studien (CSPK)
29. bis 31. Oktober 2020