What Is Bad Subjects?

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A brief description of what the Bad Subjects project is.
"Surprisingly lively and smart."
Robert Rossney, in the San Francisco Chronicle
"[Bad Subjects is] the wired left."
Jack Kapica, in the Toronto Globe and Mail
"It revels in a self-consciously renegade spirit."
Liz McMillen, in The Chronicle of Higher Education
"A bridge between the academy and people working nine-to-five jobs"
Annenberg Online Journalism Review
"For those who would like to develop a more seductive and appealing language than neo-Marxist or post-structuralist jargon."
Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement
"Some of the most straightforward, readable, and most importantly, relevant prose you're likely to find."
San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Four stars."
Magellan WWW Reviews

Bad Subjects is a collective that publishes a magazine (Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life) and provides access to it via a public-access website. In 1998, Bad Subjects founded a small educational nonprofit corporation, also called Bad Subjects, which promotes the progressive use of new media and print publications. Donations to the nonprofit go toward funding printed copies of the magazine Bad Subjects (distributed for free), and other related projects, such as Bad Subjects books. Bad Subjects seeks to revitalize progressive politics in retreat. We think too many people on the left have taken their convictions for granted. So we challenge progressive dogma by encouraging readers to think about the political dimension to all aspects of everyday life. We also seek to broaden the audience for leftist and progressive writing, through a commitment to accessibility and contemporary relevance.

Bad Subjects was founded in September 1992, at UC Berkeley. Since then it has circulated widely, and today we actually have about 250,000 readers from around the world per month. You can use our online facilities to find articles on any topic, or browse our current or recent issues.

Feel free to join in! We look forward to your participation.

Back Issues
Upcoming Issues

Call for Papers

Bad Subjects Issue #87:

Weapons

BAD SUBJECTS Issue #87 investigates how the topic of weapons is woven into the fabric of society and is broadly defined in the popular psyche and technological history. From words to pictures, to media culture and cinema, a culture of weaponry--from handguns to drones and beyond----preoccupies the global imagination.

Creative articles on how weapons impact daily life in human interaction, geopolitics, or the life of cities or other are strongly encouraged. Weapons are unsettling, technological phenomenon prone to inducing controversy, horror, pleasure, and pain. The very word 'weapon' touches a powerful nerve in American identity, that of property and liberty.

Then there is the freedom to arm oneself which for many is a concept deeply embedded in the American mind. Whether in response to real or perceived threat, personal weapons have an attraction, use, and appeal. In art, media culture, literature, and film scripts that appeal manifests as images and words; a culture of ideas. Since Sandy Hook and Isla Vista, a renewed debate about gun control counteracts the virulent demand for gun freedom from the conservative right. Indeed, notions of “weaponry” extend far beyond that which can be worn on the body, or carried, or used by a single individual shooter when entire nations are beset with the forever marks of bombs, bullets, chemicals, and military actions. Historic events may offer an understanding of where American society stands with respect to military force, military aid, or the Second Amendment, but do they put us any closer to self-reliance, sovereignty, and the pursuit of happiness?

What do guns signify and how are they, or are they not, significant? Are weapons an idea, lodged in our minds, colonizing our thoughts to the point of no return? How can we dislodge their power over us and send it, naked and vulnerable, into the world, like a frightened piece of game? This is the purpose of this issue.

We are opposed to “open carry” and want more regulation and gun control. We have been active in the history of anti-war and anti-military activity. We seek articles addressing history; articles on art, cinema, culture, political life. We want to look at weapons, at guns and gun worship; at weapons and sexuality, at war and at peace.

In a remarkable work, The Ray Gun Museum, Claes Oldenburg placed a large collection of small plastic, wood, and metal gun-shaped items he'd found over time on display in a gun shaped room. The artwork talks about the symbolism of the gun shape and what it signifies; the likeness of the found object to the gun.

Thus, we have contradictions. We relentlessly glamorize the weapon, sexualize it, make it part of gender; fool with it. A femininity of wiles is often considered insidiously complex and amoral. We make poison, cast spells, bewitch and beguile while the gangster, and the gun moll, model unequal power relations in film noir after film noir and the masculinized, westernized military industrial complex dominates virtually all of Hollywood from The Terminator to Iron Man to Full Metal Jacket and Zero Dark Thirty,despite Lara Croft! Man and his Technology reigns supreme.

An even newer weapon, possibly, has emerged since 9/11, that of a pure ideology, immaterial absolutes and a global political spectrum laced with ideas emerging fresh from the US lead “War on Terror”. The Internet as terminal hiding place, as battlefield, cities as vulnerable, and surveillance as a necessary evil are ideas which reconstitute the feedback loop of the perpetual terrorist Other; a war machine.

What then, do events like the Bundy ranch face-off mean for "revolutionary" acts of freedom in the United States? How has the history of weapons influenced such events and what do they mean for the future of civil society?

Bad Subjects welcomes articles which will generate greater understanding about this complex topic. Submitted essays must be 1,000–3,000 words long. The deadline for submission is October 1. Please send completed essays (.rtf format), your contact information, and a brief author bio of 100 words, to submissions.badsubjects@gmail.com. Please include “Submission for Issue 87” in the subject line of the email.

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Collective Action
Collective ActionCollective Action, the second Bad Subjects anthology, is available today at your favorite local independent bookstore. (Get the first one, too.)
 

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