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The University and micro-dynamics of institutional life

Fifty years on from the legendary protests of 1968, and the student occupations which sought radically to contest the nature of the university, we are holding a conference to extend the questions of this moment into today’s context by exploring of the institution of the University. Recently, the emerging field of Critical University Studies has provided a discursive framework for critique of the University, and has paid particular attention to its economic status within the neoliberal market. This, and other issues such as free speech in universities and their payment of staff come to regular prominence in public discourse. We aim to contribute to these discussions by asking how large-scale structures have impacted upon the embodied and local workings of institutional life, and how such dynamics might map onto or deviate from these larger political structures. We also hope to bring new disciplinary vocabularies into dialogue with the field of Critical University Studies, highlighting in particular the following three approaches. Firstly, we welcome historical research of all kinds, and especially that of local, surprising or otherwise underrepresented areas. Secondly, we want to explore how “lived” descriptions of current experience may situate our understanding of the tensions and contentions of the contemporary moment, and welcome experiential accounts of this kind. Finally, we encourage presentations on the unconscious aspects of the University, as manifested for example in ideology and group dynamics, and we embrace psychoanalytic approaches of any description.

Keynote by Jennifer Doyle

Call for papers

We welcome proposals from researchers at any stage of their career. Themes for discussion in papers might, for instance, include:

  • Questions of scale and methodology in University Studies

  • The experience of political activism in the University

  • Historical accounts of definitive moments in the history of the University

  • Exploration and critique of University teaching methods

  • Student/teacher relationships

  • Exploration of the relationship between the University and institutions or communities outside of it

  • Critique of the relationships between disciplines and fields within the University

  • The relationship between the University and the production of art, poetics and artistic movements

  • Views on the potential or desired future of the University as an institution

  • Accounts of the prehistory of the University

  • Exploration of the geography and architecture of universities

Please email proposals or any queries to or use the form here by September 21st.