For nearly twenty years, the Center for Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture has been a fixture at Rutgers, and known nationwide as a haven for scholars doing interdisciplinary work. Under the directorship of Rutgers English Professor George Levine (who founded CCACC in 1986), the Center conducts year-long seminars on specific themes, attracting fellows from around the country who are eager to work with colleagues from entirely different disciplines.
For example, last year’s topic was “Chance,” and the seminar led by Rutgers History Professor Jackson Lears included literary critics and cultural historians, but also a musician, an economist, a sociologist of risk-management, and a philosopher of science who studies quantum physics and randomness. The current topic, “Intellectual Property,” has a similar range of disciplines in conversation with each other. By allowing scholars from such disparate fields to come together and share their works in progress, the Center has become a place where the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences can meet.
Now, under the joint directorship of Professor Levine and Professor Michael Warner, the Center is shortening its name to CCA – the Center for Cultural Analysis – and expanding its scope. In addition to sponsoring the usual interdisciplinary seminars, the CCA will also host faculty “working groups” on a variety of themes, special graduate seminars, and several public lectures and conferences.
Working groups are a way to bring together Rutgers faculty interested in specific topics, and the first one, on “Mind and Culture,” is being planned. A larger group, the Symposium for Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies, is being launched with the help of CCA, and is already scheduled to host a national conference at the end of March.
In addition, two “mini-conferences” are scheduled for the spring: one on Jonathan Swift’s “A Tale of the Tub” and questions of intellectual property, and one on the issue of intellectual property and indigenous peoples. These public events will allow CCA scholars to share some of their ongoing discussions from the seminar.
Professor Warner, who will take over as director when Professor Levine retires next semester, has even more plans, including developing specialized collaborative technology so that scholars across Rutgers can work together on projects more easily. “And we’re exploring using a version of that technology to facilitate international collaborations,” he says, “working with scholars at similar centers around the world.” Dropping “Contemporary Culture” from the title reflects Professor Warner’s overall goal: to make the CCA into a hub for all types of cutting-edge interdisciplinary work, not just at Rutgers but world-wide.
The Center for Cultural Analysis
Celebrating George Levine's Retirement