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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The struggle to be oneself in relation to celebrities and fame

My project aims to understand the struggles that celebrities face when trying to be/know themselves. The aim is also to shine light on the fact that the struggle they face is more intense and harder than for a non-celebrity.
I want to breakdown the stigma that celebrities should not struggle with knowing themselves or the life they lead.
My object is the struggle to be oneself and my territory is the struggle to be oneself in relation to celebrities and fame. Discussing these both will bring up concepts such as: identity, real self, apparent self, consumerism, fluidity, culture industry and intensity.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Philosophy of Music and Sound

An insight into the key questions and thinking that surround the philosophy of music; An outline of the relationship between sound, noise, and music; and the changes that have occurred for music and the philosophy of music over recorded history.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mass Media of Repression within the Culture Industry

For my stage 3 dissertation, my object of study is mass media, specifically on the subject of repression within the culture industry. I will firstly mention philosopher, Theodor Adorno’s concept of the culture industry, explaining his belief that those who govern society have purposefully caused a standardisation of the media. This creates a domino effect of standardisation in both leisure and work time, that results in a submission to capitalist ideals. I will clarify, that this submission is apparent to Adorno, as during the reign of capitalism, creativity and pleasure have grounded to a halt, preventing new ideas or realisations, which consequently has led to a submission to the political regime.

In response to Adorno, I will discuss Astra Taylor’s concept of repressive technology in her book ‘The Peoples Platform’. Taylor, much like Adorno, argues that the culture industry has led to a growth of capitalist control and power, however, unlike Adorno, Taylor’s focus is on technology.

I will lastly explain Walter Benjamin’s concept of the aura. I will discuss how Benjamin believes that in order for a piece of art to have an aura, it must be authentic and original. Benjamin confesses that the aura of art has depleted as a result of technological advancements, as art can be reproduced easily, thus the original piece has lost its uniqueness. Benjamin, agreeing with Adorno, argues that this, in turn, causes a depletion of creativity. However, I will then reflect on his claim that, if used correctly, this new technology can be an opportunity for a political movement. He says this, as the reproduction of art allows it to be experienced by not just the bourgeoise class, but by all of society, as art has now become a form of mass media. As the opinions of those in power are now not the only ones being heard, the political regime can be challenged, and cultural homogenisation is prevented.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Can psychedelics and culture coexist, an analysis of psychedelic culture and spiritualism

Currently psychedelics are undergoing a revitalisation in medical and metaphysical research. The question pressing now is how and if these substances, which produce experiences of alterity and perceptual disruptions, can be integrated into normal society. To explain this, this work has explored ideas of perception outlined by Kant, the mystical ideas of Watts and Leary before finally critiquing and evaluating how psychedelics on a cultural and counter-cultural level relate to society. From this research, the conclusion is drawn that psychedelics are not as easily compatible with normal society as a simple attempt to make them medically acceptable. This is due to their deeply rooted political, historical and still current rejection of normalizing society in favour of individual empowerment away from institutional control.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Is there is a surrealist element to mumble rap and if so, how does this effect either art form

My aim when researching and writing this project was to discover if there was a surrealist element to the subgenre of hip-hop called mumble rap, and if there was, what this would mean for both the subgenre in question and the avant-garde surrealist movement. I have done so by analysing various mumble rap songs and surrealist poems as well as discovering if surrealist techniques could be viewed in those songs. Also, I have also analysed the respective shifts within the art forms that each movement operated in. Furthermore, I have used Plato’s ideas in the Republic to understand whether the way Breton turned away from Platonic ideas and attitudes is similar to the way mumble rap artists turned away from conscious rap, which similarly contains mimetic and logical ideas. As well as this, I was interested in discovering what this means for both sub-genres. This is because Andre Breton, the de-facto leader of the early surrealist movement, famously hated the mainstream and mumble rap is a popular style of music. On the other hand, I was interested in how this would affect mumble rap and if they were linked, what the implications of being linked to a well-respected movement would do for a sub-genre often dismissed by critics. In doing this project I have gained a deeper respect and understanding for all the elements involved.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

How Does our Experience of Art Change as Technology Evolves?

The rise of the music streaming service throughout the 21st century stands as a revolutionary change within the world of music. Although only a small number of companies dominate control of the market, the streaming service has succeeded in becoming the world’s most favoured method of music listening. The largest and most popular service is Spotify; a multi-billion-pound corporation that will act as the representative case study for the project. Spotify offers a unique platform of audible content, which gives users access to a vast library spanning the history of music. The main appeal of Spotify sits in their provision of a more affordable, accessible, and technologically advanced mode of listening, which is available to be streamed online through digital devices. This project looks to investigate the platform through the unique application of 20th century cultural critics Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. Benjamin’s work will be used to introduce how our experience of art changes as technology evolves. His theory on art’s ‘aura’, a concept relating to the presence of an original piece, which withered in the age of mechanical reproduction, will show how the move away from physical collections of music, such as vinyl, has led to a decline in authentic musical experience. Despite this, Benjamin’s work helps provide a balanced overall assessment of Spotify. This balance occurs through his insights upon how new technologies can bring about social change, particularly through the enhancement of accessibility – a useful argument in the context of Spotify’s global network. The primary conceptual focus, Adorno, will build upon the foundation set by Benjamin, through his observations on ‘the culture industry’. This term refers to the commodification of cultural goods, such as television, film and noticeably, music, that occurred at the hands of late capitalism. Adorno claims the movement comes at the jeopardy of all modern culture, as the industry looks to homogenise cultural creation to accommodate for mass production. . Overall, the project will use Adorno’s philosophy to show how Spotify exists as a modern extension of the culture industry; thus, adding to the decline of true artistic expression in contemporary music.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

What can the Philosophy of Zizek tell us about desire and ideology in current culture?

What can the Philosophy of Zizek tell us about desire and ideology in current culture?
This essay shows key features of Zizek’s philosophy which show how desire influences ideology and how this can be illustrated through examining current culture.

I have used the examples of the musical Hamilton and The Extinction Rebellion protests.

Hamilton is a beautiful piece of culture to analyse using Zizek’s philosophy because it expresses powerful ideologies through music.

Extinction Rebellion is a wonderful organization that is trying to save the world. Zizek’s philosophy when applied to the reaction to XR is excellent in illustrating the powerful nature of ideology.

Ideology is a powerful and irrational force in the world, and nobody realises they are being duped by it, this is what my essay aims to argue.

Exploring Zizek’s philosophy through these pieces of current culture has given me a much greater understanding of the world around me.

Zizek is clearly an influential philosopher and his philosophy has interested me for a while now and it was a joy to learn about his work. His conception of ideology I believe is groundbreaking, I aimed to show this in my essay and I believe I have succeeded.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Mutatis Mutandis: On Imitative Dynamics in Theories of Culture

The following project considers ‘memetics’ as a theory of the role of imitative dynamics in the genesis and development of human culture. This entails an exposition of memetics as the product of a series of conceptual transpositions between different practices and domains, which are tracked at length. Situating the object in question in the domain of fundamental anthropology (such circumscribing both cultural genesis and development), the concept applied to this object shall be René Girard’s ‘mimetic theory’ both with respect to its critique of a neglect of acquisitive, and therefore conflictual, mimesis pertaining broadly to theories of imitation, and its competing account of the function of imitation in the genesis and development of human culture. Having offset memetics with the theoretical conclusions of mimetic theory, the project shall conclude with an evaluation of memetics as an account of the role of imitative dynamics in human culture.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Dance Music as Culture

Territory: Music, Culture

Object:
Dance music, in its authentic form, with Disco as it’s predecessor — authenticity established by a continuum from Disco to electronic dance music, cultivating ideological resistance, sonic variation and club cultural context.

Methodology:
Unlike most art forms, dance music achieves its ultimate potential in only a moment of euphoria shared by the cumulative joy of a crowd of people. I aim to prove that in these moments, all aspects of authentic dance music come together to form a unique autonomy in the context of the culture industry. I will do this by identifying, using critical analysis, weaknesses in the theories that will be discussed and presenting dance music’s unique ability to exploit these.

Theory:
The Social Theories of Theodor Adorno in The Dialectic of Enlightenment and G.W.F Hegel in The Philosophy of Right and Philosophy of Mind. Hegel’s theory reinforces the concept of an artistic freedom restricted by the Culture Industry.

Application:
Adorno engages in the idea of ‘autonomous art’ against the culture industry. To an extent, this will remain the position of authentic ‘dance music’;ideologically resistant to the culture industry in the way that Adorno idealises. However, a study into Adorno’s own perception of authentic art, a result of his complex, often pretentious Aesthetic Theory, demonstrates why he doesn’t actually believe autonomy can be anything other than illusory in relation to its social context — Adorno is too negative.

Conclusion:
I have thus presented ‘dance’ music’s authentic features as holding the potential to actualise Adorno’s illusory ideal. Whilst I also understand this cannot be maintained, in brief moments, dance music is at least the perfect representation of Hegel’s utopian union of the subjective and objective, yet also, can achieve an independent utopia.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 3

The Case for Drag: Exploring drag performance and culture through the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Given the rapid rise of drag performance in pop culture, it is now one of the most popular and varied forms of entertainment. But isn’t seeing drag performance and culture as nothing more than a source of amusement, to obfuscate swathes of its political, emotional and metaphysical potential? How might we do drag justice? How might we unlock this potential? The answer lies in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, an engagement with whom, will help us see the potential drag offers.Early Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy helps us understand drag’s potential in revealing a harsh reality, and in making it possible to bear by transfiguring suffering into beauty. Middle-period Nietzsche: Nietzsche sews the seeds for the ideas which develop in his mature work. Mature Nietzsche: Nietzsche’s critique of the Kantian subject helps us understand how drag pulls us towards a less anxious, less restricted and more emancipated subjectivity. Thus Nietzsche helps us appreciate drag as more than a piece of entertainment, as offering us a more tolerable and healthier way of being in the world.

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2016 Abstracts Stage 2

From Concert Halls to Kurt Cobain: Investigating a Loss of Value in Contemporary Popular Music

Where do we place value in music?
TRADTIONALLY TRAINED or CULTURALLY INCLINED
Has music regressed in value? Is music rendered inauthentic by its standardised, repetitive structures?
Of the Origin of the Work of Art VS
On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening

Music “is the becoming and happening of truth…with extraordinary awesomeness”.

“The aim of [music] is the mechanical reproduction of a regressive moment, a castration symbolism. ‘Give up your masculinity, let yourself be castrated,’ the eunuch-like sound of the [boy] band both mocks and proclaims, ‘and you will be rewarded, accepted into a fraternity which shares the mystery of impotence with you, a mystery revealed at the moment of the initiation rite.”

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2015 Abstracts Stage 3

THE SURREALISTS DREAM…  

A philosophical investigation into the monumental art and cultural changes at the beginning of the 20th Century – specifically focused on the art movement Surrealism and the philosophical theory of Walter Benjamin, juxtaposed with the thought of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
To what effect did Surrealism change the course of our culture and did it succeed in its ambition to eradicate art pour l’art ? Are we capable of appreciating art beyond the sphere of aesthetics? Why Surrealism is such a tremendous influence on artists today, and particularly in the medium of film? What cultural changes were occurring during this time that enabled the movement to flourish, and what were the lasting effects? Does Surrealist art allow for freer expression, and can this constitute fine art? Furthermore, is it the leading cause of our amalgamation of high and low cultures, and is this a good thing?
I will be evaluating these questions amongst many others in my final year project, looking specifically at the artists Giorgio de Chirico and Frida Kahlo.
 

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2015 Abstracts Stage 3

The nature of the decentralised operating system within Bitcoin and its relation to the configurations of society

Providing an in-depth study into the operations taking place within Bitcoin and outlining the current and possible future effects it could have in changing the way in which the monetary system works. This project will involve the Philosophical implications it could have on changing the way in which society as a whole is understood to operate.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy in the Boudoir. The taboo of sex: an evaluation of the significance of sexual discourse in society

Why has society repressed sexual discourse and what does this mean for an individual?

Foucault and Beauvoir explore the historical repression of sexuality and the classifications of the Enlightenment and scientific discourse. Individuals have not been able to express their sexuality publicly, as discourse of the erotic was under taboo.

How can we liberate society from the consequences of sexual repression?

Marquis de Sade asserted the importance of sexual liberation to combat all social repressions. His pornographic works, despite being violent and cruel, are fundamentally pivotal in the emancipation of sexuality from the private realm.

What was the result of the sexual revolution for sexual emancipation?

The 1960s sexual revolution is said to have begun with the publishing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and had a major impact on sexual liberation, specifically for women, as prohibitions on discourse were protested.

What impact does the culture industry have on sexual liberty?

Adorno’s writings on mass consumerism in our capitalist society explore the limits of sexual liberty as in the public realm as they begin to cater only to the needs and desires of our consumer society

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Hubris of Medicalization

A considered look into the social transition from ‘madness’ to ‘mental illness’ and the possible connotations of our choice to embrace such medicalization within the Western World, inspired by a reading of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir Girl, Interrupted.

Concepts: Foucault Madness and Civilisation, Szasz The Myth of Mental Illness, Potter The Authenticity Hoax, Davies Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good, Kaysen Girl, Interrupted.

Aspects considered: Within this project I intend to discuss and analyse the value of medicalization, and will thus discuss how it came to power and why we choose to maintain it. Through Foucault I will challenge the concept that we have always been ‘mentally ill’ rather than mad, wise or even Dionysian.

In discussing this topic further I will touch on the technological era’s impact on medicalization, and thus the glamorisation of ‘mental illness’ within YouTube and Facebook culture. I will also aim to discuss and challenge the pharmaceutical nature of ‘therapy’ which is so widely experienced and commonly accepted.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

How Can We Learn from the Holocaust? A critical evaluation of the pedagogic value of responses to the Holocaust and art in law.

Artistic responses:

Adorno: didactic art and mass culture. Holocaust art has the ability to misrepresent victims’ experiences, undermining the pedagogic value of art. Mass culture threatens society’s understanding of the Holocaust by dictating standardized moral messages to its audience.

Schindler’s List is an example of Holocaust art that is not appropriate for education because it dictates a moral message through in scenes of gratuitous violence.

Maus consistently reminds the reader of the dangers of misrepresentation in Holocaust art and does not dictate a message, allowing readers to critically engage with the subject matter and form their own opinions. It is educational without being didactic.

Legal responses:

Holocaust denial: Irving v. Lipstadt set the precedent for how liberal societies can maintain their commitment to free speech whilst protecting the collective memory of the Holocaust from deniers.

Who’s accountable? Society must accept that strategic reasoning pioneered by modernity contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution, rather than assigning Germany sole accountability.

The trial of Adolf Eichmann highlights that individuals have a duty to humanity above the need to follow the orders of their government.Artistic responses:

Adorno: didactic art and mass culture. Holocaust art has the ability to misrepresent victims’ experiences, undermining the pedagogic value of art. Mass culture threatens society’s understanding of the Holocaust by dictating standardized moral messages to its audience.

Schindler’s List is an example of Holocaust art that is not appropriate for education because it dictates a moral message through in scenes of gratuitous violence.

Maus consistently reminds the reader of the dangers of misrepresentation in Holocaust art and does not dictate a message, allowing readers to critically engage with the subject matter and form their own opinions. It is educational without being didactic.

Legal responses:

Holocaust denial: Irving v. Lipstadt set the precedent for how liberal societies can maintain their commitment to free speech whilst protecting the collective memory of the Holocaust from deniers.

Who’s accountable? Society must accept that strategic reasoning pioneered by modernity contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution, rather than assigning Germany sole accountability.

The trial of Adolf Eichmann highlights that individuals have a duty to humanity above the need to follow the orders of their government.

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2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Exploring the Influential Powers and Effects of Social Media

My project aims to demonstrate how manipulated we have become by social media. It questions, in what ways and how much does modern social media affect our lives? Is it a harmless distraction, or has it become too ingrained within our daily lives?

Social media is in my opinion, part of a popular culture that as modern individuals, we desperately want to fit in with. Social media is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives. In my project I shall also explore the need we feel as modern individuals to be a part of mass culture and to avoid alienation. Consequently, I shall argue, social media holds a great influence over even the smallest parts of our daily lives. The things we observe and gain from social media in all its forms affect and influence us in a number of ways, occasionally positively but also negatively. Its influence promotes a certain way of life, a life by which we are largely consumed and engulfed by the internet. I shall use Adorno’s concept of mass culture to support my investigation into social media as deception, along with Deleuze’s view on new technology. To conclude I shall use Van Dijk’s view that social and media networks are indeed shaping the prime mode of organisation and stand as the most important structures of modern society, adding to this that we have become almost too dependent on social media, and that we must be aware of the dangers of social media as a whole.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

An Analysis of Nietzsche’s Notions of Culture, Self-Formation and Exploring Whether Such Notions, When Compared with Foucault’s Philosophy, Are Relevant in Contemporary Society

– Nietzsche’s notions of culture

– Nietzsche’s formation of the self

– Foucault’s aesthetics of existence

– Foucault’s advancement and caring for the “self”

– Ethical advancement and transition

This project will determine whether the ideas of both Nietzsche and Foucault can be translated in to today’s contemporary 21st Century world. The lightning pace of technological and cultural advancement present in today’s society can be viewed as an ethical minefield, and therefore I question whether the two philosopher’s concepts of culture and ethical transition can help 21st Century society in any way shape or form.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The “Punk” Trend by Vivienne Westwood and the Philosophy of Bataille

My key point is to look into the fashion trends of Vivienne Westwood, I shall concentrate on the era of ‘Punk’ where Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren played a vital role. I shall compare this with the Philosophy of Georges Bataille who had an obsession with obscene things such as Human Sacrifice. Concentrating mainly on his Base Materialism and his writing’s Eroticism and Story of the Eye. Punk……. • Punk first emerged in the mid 1970s in London as an anarchic and aggressive movement. About 200 young people defined themselves as an anti-fashion urban youth street culture. Vivienne Westwood is often cited as punk’s creator, but the complex genesis of punk is also found in England’s depressed economic and socio-political conditions of the mid-1970s. Punk was as much a youthful reaction against older generations, considered oppressive and outdated, as a product of the newly recognized and influential youth culture. Creative and entrepreneurial people, such as Westwood, often contribute to an aesthetic that brings a sub cultural style to the forefront of fashion. Bataille…. This image of a torture victim from Taiwan fascinated Georges Bataille. He thought that “the expression on the man’s face is the ecstasy of sexual pleasure”. Georges Bataille believed, as Hegel did, that ‘history is dead’ that we need to come up with new and exciting ways to take society forward to a new way of living because as it is now it is boring. He believed that the key to this was through art, shocking people into change.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the BBC Still an Important Moral and Cultural Institution within Contemporary Society?

Territory: I chose to consider the BBC and the recent scandals in which it had been involved, focusing particularly on the Ross and Brand voicemail scandal and rigged phone-ins involving Blue Peter and Comic Relief. Concepts: My territory led me to consider morality and identity for the individual within modern society, focusing on the relationship between these concepts and institutions such as the BBC. Aims: Following the BBC scandal involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand and the public outrage this caused I decided to evaluate the role of the BBC today. My objective was therefore to determine the ways in which the BBC had changed over the years in order to debate whether it was still morally and culturally important today. In order to evaluate these changes I chose to look at Beck and his notion of Individualization to understand our changing society and the problems faced by the BBC today. To further consider the effects of cultural institutions such as the BBC for the individual I chose to look at Adorno’s “The Culture Industry” and Taylor’s “Sources of the Self”, which both highlighted the significance of cultural institutions within the formation of morality and identity. This led me to argue that the BBC still has an important role to play within society today both morally and culturally. However it must attempt to balance its traditional values with the developing attitudes of our society if it is to retain this significance.