Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design
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Introduction: subjectivity in question

Subject Matters
is a journal that has grown out of some regular meetings between likeminded members of the Communications and Subjectivity research group at London Metropolitan University. It aims to take stock of current theoretical discourses concerning subjectivity and to investigate new avenues for research. It will also be concerned with historically embodied forms of subjectivity.

The concept of the subject has enjoyed widespread circulation in recent critical discourse. Perhaps part of its success lies in the very ambivalence of the term which captures a theoretical tension. As Abercrombie, Turner and Hill point out, "[t]he subject implies agency, action and authorship, but also subjection. While the term is often used synonymously with 'the person' or 'the actor' it has the merit of bringing out the complexity of the debate over determinism since the subject suggests both agency and subjection" (1984: 246). In poststructuralist accounts, however, this use of the term does not magnanimously leave the question open, but rather, seeks to orientate all enquiry towards the issue of determination in and by language. Colapietro sums this up as follows: "As ordinarily used today, subjectivity is the name for the 'I' when conceived as an embodied and situated self, whose ability to think depends on language and whose awareness of itself is distorted as well as partial." (1993: 188)

The term subjectivity is frequently used heuristically to frame an enquiry into a sense of self which the researcher believes to have been culturally constructed in and by language. [Read more]