December 3-4, 2012

Faculty of Human Sciences – Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon


The concept of the popular, or popular culture for that matter, has never ceased to be an ambivalent one. Although it has come to occupy a particular place under the spotlight over the past decades within the broad study of culture, such apparently privileged position has not deprived it of the manifold ambiguities, complexities or misconceptions that have often involved its general understanding.

Since its emergence within the context of the processes of industrialization and the changes they brought about, namely in terms of cultural relations and the development of the capitalist market economy, the concept of popular culture has been, not only utterly rejected by intellectuals and scholars alike, but also denied any possibility of constituting a serious and valid topic for academic debate. Up until the mid twentieth-century, popular culture was often reduced to a poor and simplistic form of entertainment and pleasure, and was even deemed morally and ethically questionable (not to mention aesthetically). However, and particularly after the 1950s, new perspectives would soon alter this perception in very significant ways, especially with the emergence of Cultural Studies and the influence their project had on both sides of the Atlantic. From severe condemnation, popular culture quickly evolved into a period of positive reception and celebration, which resulted from critical work developed inside the academia, but also popular demand outside it.

The concept of the popular was then adopted both as an intrinsic feature, and as topic in its own right of artistic creation developed under the sign of pop. From pop art to pop music, a new understanding of culture has been put forth, building from what is embedded in the ambivalence of the popular and its many possibilities of intersection with new artistic forms of expression.

At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, popular culture finds itself at a crossroads: has the concept been drained of its meaning because of its overwhelming popularity? After the euphoria around the popular, what afterlife can be expected from it? Should we still be discussing the popular as opposed to high and folk culture? And where and how do pop art forms intersect with the current notion of the popular?

This conference wishes to address the complexities surrounding the debate around the notions of both pop and the popular and discuss the possibilities of their afterlife.

This event wishes to bring together doctoral students, post-doc researchers and international key scholars from different areas and disciplines, to share research interests and works-in-progress, engage in fresh intellectual discussion and build a community of young scholars.

Papers are welcome on the topics listed below, amongst others:

  • Popular Culture in Theory
  • Life and Afterlife of Popular Culture
  • Popular, Power and Politics
  • Popular Culture: Globalization, Centres and Peripheries
  • Material Culture
  • Popular Arts
  • Celebrities and Fans: The Dynamics of Popularity
  • Representation, Mediation and Mediatisation of the Popular
  • Cultures, Subcultures, Scenes and Tribes
  • Pop and Popular: Overlap, Dissemblance and Divergence

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
  • Luísa Leal de Faria (Catholic University of Portugal)
  • John Storey (University of Sunderland)
  • Jorge Martins Rosa (New University of Lisbon)


  • Translating the Popular (Alexandra Lopes, Ana Margarida Abrantes, João Ferreira Duarte)
  • The Artists Report from the Popline (André e. Teodósio, João Pedro Vale, Nuno Gonçalves)

Speakers should be prepared for a 20-minute presentation followed by questions.

Please send a 300-word abstract, as well as a brief biographical note (100 words) to email by July 15th, 2012. Proposals should list paper title, name, institutional affiliation and contact details.

Successful applicants will be notified by July 31st, 2012.

Please note there is a conference registration fee of 30€ due by October 30th. We regret that travel and accommodation funding for conference participants is not available at this time.

Organizing Committee

Ana Cachola

Joana Mayer

Sónia Pereira