Special issue introduction : Critique, postcritique and the present conjuncture
How might we map the different horizons, questions, topics and concerns that come into view when we bring together the signifiers “critique”, “postcritique” and the “present conjuncture”? The canvas suggested by the question might seem impossibly broad and disorderly, but the different contributions to this special issue of Media Theory share a common desire to confront the question of what critique means today. This editorial introduction identifies different political and cultural developments which justify discussion of this topic now. None seem more salient than the rise of a culture of reactionary media politics that normalises its own image of critical thinking, sometimes in forms that stage a wholesale authoritarian attack against different critical theoretical traditions. Our introduction reflects on the political and cultural resonances of “postcritique” as a provocative keyword for work in literary studies and other fields that questions critique’s reliance on a “hermeneutics of suspicion”. The postcritique literature has been read by some as symbolising a simple renunciation of critique: an antagonist that the defenders of critique need to polemically combat. We approach it instead as an insightful theoretical perspective for illuminating how critique can potentially take repetitive, predictable and regressive forms, both in scholarly work and in cultural contexts that go well beyond the world of the academy. Inspired by this journal’s expansive conception of media theory, we also explore how the postcritique literature’s attention to the affective disposition(s) of critique speaks to the notion of critique as a medium of communication. Far from wanting to disavow a commitment to critique, we affirm the importance of asserting a democratic vision of critique in a conjunctural context where the political valences of critique are more ideologically confusing. We conclude with a brief preview of the different contributions to the special issue.
Source (journal)
Media theory
7 :1 (2023) , p. 1-26
Full text (open access)
Research group
Project info
Journalism, media critique and online publics (CritJourn).
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Creation 04.03.2024
Last edited 13.06.2024
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