Introduction – Craig Fortier, Assistant Professor, Social Development Studies

In the Winter of 2019 we embarked on an experiment in our classroom for SDS 441R: Popular Culture in the Radical Imagination.  How do we use the tools and skills developed in academia to produce projects that both highlighted the intersections between popular culture and radical struggles for social justice and spoke to a variety of audiences.  In this sense one goal of the course was to produce a singular project from start to finish where students would receive guidance from a variety of sources (i.e professor, TAs, peers, community members, activists) and would work to develop skills to evaluate and peer edit each other’s work.

Often academia can be a place of extraction from social movements and the pedagogical priorities of this course are that students instead see their academic work in relation to social movements. Moreover, this course hopes to foster the notion that engaging in political work within the realms of popular culture is a fruitful endeavour given the fact that it is a cultural space that is highly visible, influential, and valued in our society.

We consider this to be a peer edited journal for undergraduate students. Throughout the course students engage in a rigorous process of review, editing, and self-reflection.  This journal rejects the “blind” review process and puts forward a collaborative alternative that focuses on iterative, ongoing, and serious engagement with the work of our peers (for us that means other students – past and present – in SDS 441R). It also emphasizes accountability of peer reviewers who are asked to explain their critiques and work with peers to address conflict.   We recognize these pieces as both published and ongoing and students may decide in the future to withdraw the piece if they feel it no longer represents their thinking around the topic. In this sense we must give room for learning, change and growth but also recognize that undergraduate work can and should be seen as an exploration of concepts and students should not be beholden to the ideas that they are in the process of developing.

Nonetheless, this first edition features pieces in various format from 6 students in the Winter 2019 term of the course.  These pieces deal with serious and at times difficult subject matter.  Students have approached this work using various methodologies, forms of knowledge, and with different audiences in mind.  This is something that we encourage in SDS 441R and hope that the readers will appreciate and respect the diversity of submissions.