Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Speaking from the Margins

Jose Medina.

In this paper I develop a contextualist account of meaning through an analysis of silenced voices inspired by Wittgenstein and Bakhtin. I argue that this contextualism offers a critical new direction for the study of cultural practices in the Humanities (a direction already delineated in Postcolonial Theory, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Theory, and Queer Theory).
The critical thesis that I derive from my contextualist view of meaning and discursive practices is that the Humanities should engage marginalized voices and empower them through situated critical discourses. I offer some examples of these critical discourses in Communication and Film Theory, Ethnic Studies, and Queer Theory; and I try to show how these contextualized discourses are continuous with critical and transformative activities contained in everyday and artistic practices. The upshot of my argument is that the Humanities must not only make room for marginal voices to be expressed in academia, but must also empower them, exploit their critical potential, and give center stage to their critical discourses.
I conclude that Cultural Studies should become Critical Studies and fight discursive disempowerment with discursive empowerment, silence with speech.


Jose Medina  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
Vanderbilt University

I received my Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern University. Besides my book on Wittgenstein (SUNY Press), I have published articles in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Ethnicity, and Theories of Identity in professional journals such as Cognition, Metaphilosophy, Philosophical Investigations, and Philosophy and Social Criticism.

  • Contextualism
  • Critique
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language-game
  • Marginality, Marginal Voices
  • Meaning
  • Polyphony
  • Silence
  • Speech
  • Wittgenstein

(30min Paper Presentation, English)