New Directions in the Humanities International Award for Excellence

The New Direction in the Humanities Journal Collection offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the New Direction in the Humanities Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 18

The Politics of Regressive Listening: Performance-as-Protest, Protest-as-Performance

Scholars analyzing representations of global capitalism through music and visual culture must contend with their mediated rhythms of politicization (i.e., when they are received as political) as well as the tensions inherent to their mediation (i.e., how the medium affects the representation and vice versa). As a case in point, Rage against the Machine’s (RATM) sound, lyrics, videography, and album art critique the ideological foundations of criminality within global systems of capitalism and cultural justifications for the American-led police order. Their anarchic performativity-as-protest and protest-as-performativity synthesizes rap, hip-hop, funk, punk, and heavy metal political aesthetics to formulate a critical response to the circulation of hegemonic cultural commodities, ideologies, and identities manufactured by the culture industry. It has been more than two decades since the release of Rage against the Machine’s self-titled debut album, and their return to popularity leading up to the 2016 presidential election reflects the reiteration of historical contradictions in the global political economy due to a public affect of rage caught up in the rise of American capitalism that resonates with the band’s anarchic, revolutionary aesthetic. However, the populist, inverted anger of the American reactionary Right has succeeded in no small part because it made itself, like RATM, directly legible. Hillary Clinton promised to repair and refine the globalized neoliberal machinery; Trump ran on a platform of raging against that machine and won, despite also serving as a guarantee of the corporate status quo. By turning to performance studies methods applied to the RATM scene, we might better understand the affects characterizing political subjects that resist the police order via aesthetics, and how those sounds can be regressed by various kinds of listeners within the current ethical regime of sound. The musical practices of RATM echo the emergence of new forms of resistance to the dislocations and displacements that produce globalized environments in the transnational era through appositional critiques of exploitative social relations.


Mattius Rischard is a doctoral candidate in English and the Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Program at the University of Arizona. He has served as a graduate assistant director conducting pedagogical research in the Writing Program, and is currently conducting a multi-site study of political narratology in social media for the Digital Humanics research collaborative. His recent publications include "“Significacion: A Theory of Political Fashion in Chicano Counter-Culture", "The Politics of Regressive Listening: Performance-as-Protest, Protest-as-Performance", "Understanding Leadership within Higher Education: How Community Resilience Strengthens Humanics Across Team Collaborations", and "Masculine Capital/Yuppie Patriarchy: Visualizing the Noir Commodity in American Psycho." His dissertation investigates how urban literary constructs represent and problematize global networks through the spatiality of race, gender and capital, working towards a discursive and linguistic critique of socio-spatial inequality.

Past Award Winners

Volume 17

Indigenization and Modernization: The Invention of a Truly Egyptian Drama

Hala Ghoneim, The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp. 73–87


Volume 16

Rethinking Nostalgia: Commodification Theory in Terms of the Allegory versus Symbol Debate

Mike Tadashi Sugimoto, The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp. 11–24


Volume 15

Ecocriticism of Nineteenth-Century Taiwan in John Dodd’s “Formosa”

Li-Ru Lu, The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp.1–8


Volume 14

From Egypt to the Arizona Desert to Places Still to Come: The Ongoing Meta-literary Journey of Eliza’s Escape to Freedom in "Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Kenneth DiMaggio, The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp.41–49


Volume 13

Anticipating Nietzsche: Culture and Chaos in “The House of Usher” and "Wuthering Heights"

Fred Mensch, The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp.1–15


Volume 11

Cross-Cultural Studies and Aesthetics Discursive Transformations in China

Li Qingben, The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp.113–122


Volume 10

Role of Kant’s “Schematism of the Pure Concepts of Understanding” in Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Judgment

Tama Weisman, The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp.1–13


Volume 9

VideoPoetry: Collaboration as Imaginative Method

Peter Lutze, James Armstrong, and Laura Woodworth-Ney, International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.107–122


Volume 8

Cultivating Moral Sensibilities through Aesthetic Education: The Power of Everyday Cosmopolitanism

Suzanne S. Choo, International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.109–118