Cultural Studies Adjunct: Jonathan Simons
My current teaching and research focuses on the connections between democratic politics and popular, mediated aesthetics. I trained (in Britain and Israel) as a political theorist, publishing my thesis as Foucault and the Political (Routledge, 1995). Interested primarily in poststructuralist and feminist theory, I came to the view that much political theory, including critical, leftist theory, is detached from the aesthetic aspects of politics, which in terms of today’s democratic politics, concerns popular culture. That has led me to consider the debate about cultural populism and elitism, media as technologies of government, the role of emotions in political judgment, and the significance of style and rhetoric in political performance. Essays on those topics have been published in journals such as Cultural Values, Strategies, and The Journal of Political Ideology as well as edited volumes. A book in progress addresses arguments against the aestheticization of politics common in much critical political and cultural theory from Benjamin to Eagleton, dealing with fascism and postmodernism. I am attempting to argue the counter-case for democratic aesthetics that can inform radical democratic politics. I am also interested in the interdisciplinary study of images (especially political images) and have co-edited Images: A Reader (Sage, 2006). I directed and taught an interdisciplinary graduate program in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham, England (1995-2006). Two edited volumes, From Kant to Lévi-Strauss and Contemporary Critical Theorists (both published by Edinburgh University Press, in 2002 and 2004 respectively) reflect that experience.