The University of Southampton

ARTD6110 Cultural Politics: Practices

Module Overview

The module is designed to introduce you to various contemporary practices of cultural politics relevant to the study of the discipline such as ways of doing cultural politics, cultural activism, promote, impede, or direct political change, or stasis, and cultural performances involving generally peaceful but sometimes violent forms of conflict. The content of this module provides a context for you to understand the complexity of cultural politics and contemporary cultural practices understood as forms of intention, habit, or routine that seeks to distinguish and account for the general features of cultural studies that derive from its implicit and explicit contrast with notions of a disembodied language, text, or discourse. Such forms of intention can include political campaigning and boycotts, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes for instance. The important topics discussed in this module are the main ways in which the practice of cultural politics might be understood as a cultural tool, instrument of analysis, or logic for intervening in the world of culture through the mechanisms other than those of language, representations, assemblages, the generation of meaning, and linguistics. This will enable you to grasp how often-problematic cultural formations, political meanings, representations, and selectively organized signs debated throughout the MA are pertinent to practical investigations of notions such as ‘text’ ‘form’, ‘language’, and ‘material/immaterial’ by way of, for example, social media, civic engagement, and collective action. The content of this module focuses on objects and socio-cultural practices for cultural politics, namely discipline specific meaningful endeavours that seek to view and make intelligible those cultural practices which language delimits, such as mental instability, schizophrenia, dreams, madness, behavioural or other corporeal changes. By comprehending these practices, you will be able to appreciate how to think through cultural practices and political metaphors, cultures, languages, and thought-experiments that researchers face in re-defining and critiquing prior work on cultural practices, for example, with respect to environmental activism, civil disobedience, veganism, media activism and hacktivism, and culture jamming. The aim of the module is thus to offer you numerous conceptions of the idea of cultural practices and ways in which to think about the worlds of cultural signs, and politicized signifying practices and their interrelationships.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The MA Cultural Politics is based on the idea that you need to develop a whole variety of practical, cultural, and political study skills throughout your time on the degree, which will improve not only your ability to debate contemporary issues of culture and politics but also your employability. The module introduces you to an array of appropriate skills for conceptualising cultural discourses, politicised languages, practices, and statements. The aim is to provide a context and a comprehensive awareness of the practical challenges faced by cultural and political practitioners in a multifaceted and increasingly culturally and politically diverse social world. By the end of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate a variety of learning outcomes aimed at facilitating your capacity to understand and debate, for example, practical questions of culture and politics, language, learning, doing, systemic and structural relations.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The key practical tendencies and questions influencing the role of contemporary cultural and political ways of doing cultural politics, actions, applications, and performances inclusive of having an advanced command of the historical development of cultural politics.
  • The distinguishing and other general features of cultural politics that involve intentions, habits, and routines when conducting investigations into cultural studies such as the discipline’s approach to debates in cultural and political representation, and the ability to position these approaches in the context of the larger field of cultural politics and relate them to analysis of and engagements in cultural politics.
  • The role of notions other than those of disembodied language, texts, and discourses for intervening in the world by way of advanced theoretical perspectives on cultural politics, the examination of issues of culture and politics, and the ability to discuss relations between culture and politics.
  • The ways in which disciplines such as cultural politics are shaped by their mechanisms of study, by language, representations, assemblages, and the generation of meaning in addition to the analysis of the changing contexts of culture and politics, taking account of the interactions between local and global factors.
  • The practical skills that are applicable to cultural formations and political discovery of meaning inclusive of numerous conceptions of representation, of the evaluation of numerous theoretical perspectives relevant to cultural practices, such as voluntary and NGO work, anarchist, feminist and Marxist engagements.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Working with and developing supportive relations within an eclectic miscellany of fellow cultural and political practitioners with the aim of surveying and selecting appropriate primary and secondary sources for practical work using the relevant library and other facilities.
  • Solving practical cultural and political problems through the planning, developing, and production of sustained cultural and political analyses involving a range of cultural and political phenomena to the appropriate advanced standard.
  • Written and oral communication for cultural and political practitioners who not only often work independently and effectively but also communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively in written form to specified word limits and deadlines.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the role of the selection and organisation of signs, texts, and linguistic debate in contemporary cultural politics inclusive of the ability to show that you can make convincing use of secondary data (library-based, fieldwork-based, or statistical data) to develop an argument.
  • Critically analyse the multiplicity of issues influencing cultural and political materiality/immateriality in the present period through a range of research and argumentative skills appropriate for practical work in cultural politics and cultural practices.
  • Evaluate the role of objects, social practices, meanings, and discovery in relation to cultural and political practices.
  • Critically assess the limits of language in cultural politics concerning a variety of practical arguments, metaphors, cultures, languages, and thought-experiments.
  • Acquire deeper insights into the skills and tools needed by you to consider new cultural languages, political practices, and signs.


The syllabus is designed to provide you with an overview of and a context for cultural and political practice in today’s contested global environment. - Cultural politics as cultural practice - Ways of ‘doing’ cultural politics: action, application, and performance - Cultural intentions, political habits, and routines - Cultural studies, disembodied language, texts, and discourses - Culture, language, and representation - Assemblage, meanings, and formations - The selection and organisation of signs and texts - Language, material/immaterial objects, and social practices - Meaning and intelligibility beyond language - Cultural metaphors, political languages, thought-experiments, and practices - Cultural practices as signifying practices - Conceptions of discourse, language, and cultural practices - Language, learning, doing, cultural systems, and structural political relations

Special Features

This module includes a number of special features that will enable you to achieve the learning outcomes. As part of the module, Professors/Readers from Winchester School of Art and Politics and International Relations will join regular teaching faculty to share their knowledge and experiences of the complexities and ambiguities of today’s cultural, political, and practical environment. This unique view from art, politics, and international relations will form an integral part of your cultural and intellectual development.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods The module is taught through a series of lectures and seminars. Teaching methods will place emphasis on practical and applied understanding and will include group work, guided reflection and individual study of module and programme materials and discussion of cultural practices, political languages, actions and meanings associated with the field such as the attempted yet always temporary stabilisation of social convention. Internationalisation This module puts great emphasis on developing an appreciation of the complexities that are inherent in cultural and political practices in an era of globalisation. The content of the module will explicitly refer to the contemporary cultural and political diversity that is exhibited both in the student cohort and in the wider contemporary cultural and political research communities. Learning activities include: Seminar discussion Peer group learning Reflective writing Presentations

Independent Study170
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Foucault, M. (1980). Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. 

Bevir, M. and Rhodes, R. (2010). The State as Cultural Practice. 

Gray, A. (2002). Research Practice for Cultural Studies: Ethnographic Methods and Lived Cultures. 

Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (2000). Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 

Thornham, S. (2001). Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies: Stories of Unsettled Relations: Cultural Studies in Practice. 

De Certeau, M. (2011). The Practice of Everyday Life. 

Bourdieu, P. (1992). The Logic of Practice. 

Barker, C. (2011). Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. 

Hall, S. (et al) (eds) (2013). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. 

Johnson, R. and Chambers, D. (2004). The Practice of Cultural Studies: A Guide to the Practice and Politics of Cultural Studies. 

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. 

Loeb, P.R. (2010). Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Written assignment  (1500 words) 40%
Written assignment  ( words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual assignment  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual assignment  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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