For More Information

Mark Auslander
Program Director
(781) 736-2214

Mangok Bol
Program Administrator
(781) 736-2234

Networking Resources

Professor Tom King  Address at CP graduates reception

Report on Pedagogy of the Imagination, Part II

See Mark Auslander's lecture about slavery and memory on the History  
News Network.

Visit our Cultural Production Video Channel on YouTube

 Please join our Cultural Production group on Facebook

 See Mark Auslander's blog, "Cultural Productions"

See the Cultural Production program wiki  

Prof. Auslander quoted in new AP story about Facebook Holocaust memorial pages.


"No applications to the Cultural Production program are being accepted at this time."

Please read Professor Thomas King's 2010 Reception Address

The interdisciplinary M.A. program in cultural production at Brandeis University offers rigorous interdisciplinary study of the production, performance and preservation of cultural forms and practices, leading to the degree of Master of Arts. This graduate program is dedicated to the critical exploration of questions at the intersections of art, imagination, technology, space and politics.

The overall program of study facilitates the investigation of how historical, expressive and aesthetic representations are generated, circulated and interpreted in both local and global contexts. Other students may wish to avail themselves of the many academic and artistic opportunities available here at Brandeis and strech their studies over the course of three or four semesters to complete the program’s degree requirements of eight courses.

However, it is expected that many students will enroll part time while keeping jobs at local-area institutions and organizations. Enrollment will also be open on a course-by-course basis for interested professionals or professionals in training.

What is “Cultural Production”?

Mark Auslander

As an emergent zone of theory and practice, “cultural production” has its intellectual roots in late 20th century arguments and developments across the interpretive social sciences, critical humanities, visual arts and performing arts. The concept emerged in reaction against orthodox structuralist and “cultural reproduction” approaches that emphasized the automatic transmission of cultural form across the generations, as overdetermined either by deep structures of human thought or by the overarching frameworks of economy and society. Cultural Production theorists, coalescing around Pierre Bourdieu (and heavily inspired by Michel Foucault and feminist praxis) rejected both claims for the pure autonomy of “culture” or culture’s subordinate, superstructural status. Instead, they insisted that fields of literature and art and the fields of culture making more broadly are all "fields of forces" and "fields of struggle." In Bourdieu’s terms, cultural production develops out of tensions between structure and human agency, out of ongoing struggles over “symbolic capital” and unstable definitions of social reality. Integrative historical, social and cultural analysis must thus pay particular attention to processes of labor and the active (and contested) making of meaning at all levels of the social formation.

The 1993 publication of The Field of Cultural Production (Bourdieu and Jackson) roughly coincided with comparable positions being articulated by contemporary visual and performance artists, emphasizing the contingent nature of struggles over the measures of human accomplishment and the problems of how human domination and subordination were to be defined. These cultural producers, artists, and theorists stressed the generative value of dialectical relationships between theory and practice, between cultural critique and cultural making, and between distanced contemplation and hands-on engagement.

Cultural Production is emphatically not a discipline, nor likely to become one. It is however a dynamic and fluid field of integrative conversation, bridging diverse disciplines and modes of creative practice. At Brandeis, it has drawn especially on faculty in Anthropology, Art History, Education, English and literary studies, Jewish studies, Music, Philosophy, Sociology, Theater Arts, and visual studio arts, with exciting contributions from many other scholars, artists and programs in the region. Our students and faculty have been oriented towards problems in pubic scholarship, as we seek to make critical academic discourse accessible and relevant to our neighbors in historically underserved communities. We have been especially engaged with re-theorizing museum spaces and contemporary art venues, and have found a natural affinity with the Rose Art Museum, our own most important site of collaborative “cultural production.” Museums for many of us are critical living laboratories for exploring the dynamics of culture and power, for the experimental catalyzing of a new, in Calvino’s terms, “pedagogy of the imagination.”.

Our students come to us with diverse backgrounds, often with particular strengths in visual and performing arts, curatorial practice, community advocacy and activism, new media technologies, and literary and cultural theory. Mentored by faculty across campus, they create unexpected art installations, museum exhibitions, multimedia sites, and performance works that speak to a great range of disciplines and intellectual traditions. In these respects, we hope to stimulate the university community’s broader journey of mutual discovery, as we all chart unexpected territories of learning, critical reflection and the making of cultural form in the 21st century.