Culture in Conversation (CIC) is an online scholarly forum that seeks to reveal to its readers the work of scholarly exchange. CIC publishes conversations that are an “in-between” product—not as informal as a blog post, not as complex as a journal article, and not as one-sided as a formal commentary. The topics addressed speak to the broad scope of the cultural studies project: from media studies to literary theory, ethnology and anthropology to the digital humanities, film studies to musicology, science and technology studies, cultural history, and beyond.
In our eyes, the conversation format reveals the value of collaborative thought-in-action. The give-and-take nature of our curated topics provide a place for unique perspectives and alternate approaches to scholarly inquiry that might not find a foothold in traditional outlets. CIC’s open approach values polished academic presentations alongside more raw, less definitive pieces that are “in the works,” preserving a process of exploration, discovery and learning. It is our hope that by placing various projects and perspectives “in conversation” with one another, the resultant interactions lay bare the process by which new thoughts and ideas are formed.
CIC thrives on participants willing to put themselves out there, without pretense, accepting the idea that we are all students, continually learning through a collaborative process of exploration. By publishing conversations between scholars as the evidence of these explorations, we further hope that CIC fulfills a necessary performative aspect, revealing that ideas do not emerge fully-formed, but are worked over and polished as they are brought into contact with other perspectives. It is our hope to make public one of the more fundamental truths of our own education: in the life of a scholar, there are few experiences more exciting than the moment when ideas begin rubbing against one another and turn into something else entirely.
Visitors to the CIC site benefit from a growing database of conversations and can participate in the discussion by commenting on postings and interacting with the curator, conversationalists and other visitors. The publishing of scholarly conversations is not a new concept—they appear in the mainstream press, professional and academic journals, and in the records of public forums, among other sources. We hope this forum will fill some gaps for readers and participants, and make this work freely available and accessible for a diverse audience.