Lecturer in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts
My research is concentrated in the areas of material culture, aesthetics and everyday life with an especial focus on the conjunction of taste, class, space and affect. I have published on kitsch (including separate articles on gnomes and floral tributes), interior design, clutter, and procrastination. In addition to continuing my work on kitsch, I am currently engaged in two major research ventures: a single-authored book on the materialities of information (Neither Use Nor Ornament: Friction and Flow in the Information Age) and an extensive collaborative project on illuminated landscapes (led by Tim Edensor and Steve Millington at Manchester Metropolitan University).
I combine questions of spatial inequality, community and the conflicts that are constitutive of space with those of aesthetics to produce research that is concerned, unreservedly, with social class. My work on kitsch, for instance, traces the symbolic violence that continues to stratify notions of bad taste, even as it seems to be entering a period of progressive twisting (into baroque configurations of goodbad and hipster cute) and relaxation (good taste is passé), together with the burgeoning symbolic economy that is accruing around the idea of 'cool'. Neither Use Nor Ornament, similarly, aims to expose new images of social failure and digital poverty that inform contemporary and emergent formations of lifestyle and workstyle (coded as personal productivity and smart living).
My engagement with materiality and material culture is both theoretical and practical. In addition to being a cultural theorist, I am a ceramicist and I am interested in the generative possibilities of the encounter between critical theory and fine art practice. I am also concerned to preserve a critical approach to notions of creativity in the era of, what I term in Neither Use Nor Ornament, 'ubiquitous fun and pervasive creativity'. Following Alan Liu's critique of the corporate appropriation of creativity, the question of the constitution of creative activity is both urgent and vexed. I am, therefore, keen to investigate possibilities for resistive practice across vernacular and fine art scenes.
POTTS, T.J., 2010. ‘Creative destruction and critical creativity: recent episodes in the social life of gnomes’. In: EDENSOR, T., LESLIE, D., MILLINGTON, S. and RANTISI, N., eds., Spaces of vernacular creativity: rethinking the cultural economy Routledge.