Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Arts in Society

Lustrum symposium Arts, Culture & Media: Beyond Distinction

When:Th 16-11-2023 09:30 - 17:00
Where:Doopsgezinde kerk, Oude Boteringestraat 33

Numerous contemporary films and series (such as Parasite, The Menu, Triangle of Sadness, Babylon, The White Lotus) target economic, political and/or cultural elites indulging in their luxurious and decadent lifestyles while turning their backs at society at large, ignoring the hardship and suffering or even cynically exploiting the less well off. Many of these stories, moreover, end in some kind of dramatic climax, a moment of reckoning (much like the one predicted by Pirate Jenny in Brecht’s Three Penny Opera). Do these works, and many like them, express a generally sensed discontent with the current societal order; do they perhaps even indicate that we’re living in some kind of transition era, an interregnum in which, as Gramsci once wrote, the old is dying but the new cannot be born? Or are these films, some of which are produced by huge streaming service companies, just a form of ‘class-washing’ that allows capital to even profit from the discontent it breeds?

In our lustrum symposium Beyond Distinction we want to explore how the arts deal with distinctions. We are often said to live in a time of distinctions or gaps: the gap between politicians and ‘the people’, between haves and have-nots, between anywheres and somewheres, between people living in urban and rural areas, etc. How are such distinctions played out, expressed, staged or even emphasized and exaggerated in the arts? Apart from this ‘analytic’ angle, we are also interested in the cultural-sociological approach. Referring to Bourdieu’s classic, we also want to raise the question to what extent arts, and aesthetic tastes, are still a distinctive factor, now that tastes are democratized and traditional canons are increasingly put into question.

The department of Arts, Culture and Media Studies, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, emerged out of the cooperation between departments of film, music, theater and literary studies, as well as departments in cultural sociology and art policy. The theme Beyond Distinction therefore also refers to the multi- and cross-disciplinary nature of our department, our attempts to move between and think ‘beyond’ distinctions, both between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture and between different disciplinary approaches and intellectual traditions.

Contributors: Dan Hassler-Forest (Utrecht University), Charl Landvreugd (Stedelijk Museum), Veerle van Overloop, Eva van Netten, Juut Huitema, and several ACM staff members. Unfortunately Jennifer Lena (Columbia University) had to cancel her participation.

This event is sponsored by GUF and ICOG.


Download the programme:


To confirm your attendance, please RSVP by clicking on the button below. Colleagues are asked to contribute a small lunch fee to help us keep this event free-of-charge for our students. Please note that we unfortunately have limited space, so please register as soon as possible.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Nora Leidinger at n.h.leidinger

Further events

Additionally and as part of our lustrum, there’s also an interview with philosopher and novelist Didier Eribon organized together with Studium Generale on Wednesday 22 November, 20-21:30. For tickets please visit the SG website.