27th November 2019 by

Teach Out – Uses of Theory: The Dirty Version (Dec 3rd)

To show solidarity with the UCU strike action over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, the Contemporary Theory Reading Group will be running a Teach-Out on the 3rd of December at 3-4pm in the Bristol Pear. The reading for this week has also been altered to match the spirit of the occasion. Instead of David Herman’s ‘Narrative Theory After the Second Cognitive Revolution’, we will be reading extracts from Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, and his short blog post ‘Pain Now’. The session will also be co-led by Dr. Rachel Sykes, whose current research and writing explores discourses of risk and precarity in contemporary confessional writing.

‘Pain Now, More Pain Later’ This was the front page of the Guardian on the day my son was born nearly five years ago. That year, my wife and I earned fifteen thousand pounds between us. I was working as an hourly paid lecturer in adult education and in a university, as well as doing some freelance writing and copy-editing. We were able to survive without living in penury because of the three hundred pounds a month in tax credits we received. – Mark Fisher, ‘Pain Now’

Writing during the 2015 general election, in ‘Pain Now’, Fisher addresses his own academic precarity, political dejection, and the uncertainty of election cycles. To support our reading of this post, we have also put together a sheet of quotes from Capitalist Realism, which also reflect upon mental health, capitalism’s painting of reality as something that’s infinitely plastic,  and the present state of academic bureaucracy and its negative effects on academics and students alike.

It is not an exaggeration to say that being a teenager in late capitalist Britain is now close to being reclassified as a sickness. This pathologization already forecloses any possibility of politicization. By privatizing these problems – treating them as if they were caused only by chemical imbalances in the individual’s neurology and/or by their family background – any question of social systemic causation is ruled out. – Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism, p. 21

‘Pain Now’ can be accessed here, and the quote sheet will be circulated during the session. Both texts will also be accessible in limited quantities during the session.

Alternatively, if you’d be interested in our future sessions, you can sign up to our mailing list by contacting contemptheoryuob@gmail.com (all readings will also be circulated in advance through our mailing list).

Please also take the time to view the full schedule of Teach-Outs at /tinyurl.com/BUCUteachouts/


This event is open to anyone, and we look forward to seeing you attend in solidarity with the UCU strike action!