NANO: New American Notes Online, Special Issue 8--The Corporation and Culture CFP
Call for Papers Date:
NANO: New American Notes Online
Special Issue 8: Corporations and Culture
“Power, in Case’s world, meant corporate power. The zaibatsus, the multinationals that shape the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality. You couldn’t kill a zaibatsu by assassinating a dozen key executives; there were others waiting to step up the ladder, assume the vacated position, access the vast banks of corporate memory.”
—William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)
“The Court has thus rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons...’”
—Justice Anthony Kennedy, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010)
Speaking in two of the idioms through which corporations are most commonly articulated—the dystopian imagination and legal jurisprudence—Gibson and Justice Kennedy each suggest ways the corporation exceeds those discourses. The corporation is an evolutionary advance that even science fiction finds fantastical; it is something other than a person which can nonetheless speak like a person, even if it can’t die as one. The corporation seems to be omnipresent but elusive, structurally ubiquitous but materially ungraspable. It operates across a wide array of discourses and subject fields without being delimited by any of the spaces it inhabits.
This special issue of NANO seeks new understandings of the relationship between corporations and culture. Given the difficulties of conceptualizing the corporation, what new possibilities exist for art, narrative, activism, theory, criticism, or quotidian practice to produce fresh encounters with particular corporations or the corporation broadly speaking? What intersections and modes of relation between corporations and culture are thinkable in the present? What possible valences of the “and” in the title of this special issue—corporations vs. culture, corporations as culture, corporations within culture, corporations constraining or dictating or underwriting culture—might offer productive routes for analyzing the ways corporations operate?
Topics of particular interest include the following:
-The corporation and embodiment: how does the unified collective identity of the corporation reflect or intersect with postmodern understandings of the human self? If, as Walter Benn Michaels has argued, thinking of the corporate form requires thinking through the human form, how have shifting notions of humanity and posthumanity affected the possibilities for thinking the corporation? How are ideological understandings of the body shifting to make sense of corporate personhood, and how is corporate personhood shifting our sense of embodiment?
-The corporation and hegemony: when the primary means of mass communication, transmission, and distribution are with very few exceptions owned by corporate entities, what possibilities exist to critique, resist, or reshape the corporation within American culture? Academics and activists tend to imagine either that corporations encompass and constrain culture or that they are subject to resistance and critique from outside cultural forces, but what happens if and when corporations and culture are coterminous? Do particularly “corporate” mass cultural forms (top 40 radio, summer blockbusters, etc.) hold any interesting potential to generate critical traction on or against the corporations in which they are enmeshed? Does the corporation’s relationship to capital mean a necessarily sympathetic relationship to late capitalist hegemony, or is the corporate form itself potentially benign or counterhegemonic?
-The corporation and representation: what do aesthetic and narrative representations tell us about the contours of the corporation in the American imagination? How might conversations about aesthetic and narrative representations of the corporation be informed by considering the forms of legal and political representation to which the corporation is now entitled? What are the limits to representing the corporation, and what lies beyond those limits?
We seek critical reports or multimodal notes (up to 3,500 words) that offer compelling ways of approaching these questions. Other potential topics can include, but are not limited to:
-the corporation before the 20th century
-corporations and corporate law outside the United States
-corporations and (post)colonialism
-genealogies of legal interpretations of the corporation
-treatments of corporations in visual art or graphic design
-norms and “corporate culture”
-branding and corporate aesthetics
-the process of incorporation
-the corporation from the inside; management perspectives
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