Critical World
Thinking Globalization Through Popular Culture


Projects can be proposed by anyone interested in participating in Critical World.  Because the project has a research mission, your proposition will be reviewed before being accepted, but there are members of our team who can work with you to develop your ideas and ensure that they correspond to the format and criteria of Critical World. 

Design Principles

There are three basic principles that inform the way that projects are structured in Critical World:


The projects in Critical World are designed so that the project’s contents do not necessarily follow each other in a linear progression from introduction to analysis to conclusion.  The different media that make up a project are not shown in any particular order, rather the order of ideas and the particular combination of ideas depends on the person who is making his or her way through the project.  This structure is useful for discovering unexpected links between ideas and images or sounds.


With recent advances in web-based technologies it is possible to access one or more media simultaneously, combining media in ways that will create unexpected outcomes (for example listening to a sound recording while viewing images, or reading a text that is interspersed with video). The concept of intermediality (or the referencing of one media in another) is inspired by literary scholars’ use of the notion of intertextuality (the referencing of one text in another).  For more information on intermediality, and the University of Montréal’s Center for Research on Intermediality, click here

Free Association

One way we discovered of getting around the issue of copyrights in the context of project design was to simply create the various media ourselves.  The methodology that we use to come up with original content for particular projects is similar to that of free association, where individuals use spontaneous reactions to make links between words, images, and ideas. Free association activities often lead to exchanges filled with humor and wonder, in part because this type of activity combines unconscious thought with the rational behavior of synthesis and analysis.




If you do not have copyright clearance on an image, you must ensure that it is difficult to duplicate in a high quality format—that is, no one should be able to download the image and use it for personal or commercial profit.  As a general rule of thumb, if a non-licensed image maintains its resolution after being enlarged, the image should be modified and the resolution reduced.  As a general rule, images should not exceed 300 x 225 pixels and image files should not exceed 500k.


The texts for your project should not exceed 2 single-spaced typewritten pages.  Be clear and concise in your writing style, since Critical World has a mixture of audiences (artists, students, researchers, industry experts).  The primary purpose of a project is to explore certain issues and encourage critical thinking, not to present exhaustive analyses or definitive answers to complex questions.


The use of video is strongly encouraged, even though it is generally more difficult to prepare than images, text or sound.  Many digital cameras are capable of making short films (1-3 minutes) and we will be able to make suggestions for how to do simple video editing and compression (imovie seems to work well for simple video editing, but there are many free software programs available). For film excerpts without copyright clearance, we suggest videos of no more than 30 seconds.  In most cases, the easiest solution is to post your video to Youtube and make a link to your project with the embed video function.


Most audio on Critical World is in mp3 format.  Excerpts of approximately 30 seconds in length are generally unproblematic with regards to copyright regulations.  Because of these limitations, however, we recommend that you record your own music (we have had a lot of success with Garage Band) and your own sounds (for example excerpts from an interview, or atmospheric sound that evokes the themes discussed in your project).


A Few Helpful Tips

Seek a Balance in Between Different Media

In any given project there should be a roughly equal number of elements in each media category (image, text, video and sound) and no media category should be completely empty.  There is often a tendency to write a text and then look for sounds or images to complement the written material. Why not start with a song and compose the texts afterwards?  Or how about taking a cue from an image and then seeking out interesting audio to reinforce the visuals?

Think About Creating Your Own Media

Critical World reserves the right to diffuse the material in your project, but does not hold copyrights for the material itself (for more information, see « Copyright Issues » in the Guidelines Menu).  To avoid the administrative problems of copyrights clearance, but also because Critical World sees itself as a platform for creative activity, we strongly encourage contributors to produce and use their own media.  With very basic tools (digital camera, smartphone, computer) you can produce media of your own that are suitable for publication on Critical World.

Try to Encourage Critical Thinking

In order to encourage critical thinking about the topic you have chosen, it is important to provide information from different points of view, not just that of a fan or consumer.  One way of doing this is to show how the topic you have chosen is a matter of social division or debate; for many forms of popular culture there are just as many advocates as there are critics (see the projet « Anxiety vs. Celebration »).  Another way of encouraging critical thinking is by providing additional historical or social context or by examining the way that cultural products are integrated into larger networks of politics and global capital (see the project « World Music Today »).


Publishing the Project

Before your project can be approved, you will be asked to send a description of the project, including summaries of the visual and sound media to be used and full versions of the written texts to be used.  After sending these materials, you will receive feedback from the editorial team, including suggestions and strategies for revising the project.

After the content of the project has been finalized, you will be asked to send your media either via dropbox or directly through the Critical World admin panel, which requires a high-speed internet connection and basic familiarity with web-based platforms that manage user generated content.

When the final version of the project is assembled and ready to be published, you will be able to consult the project in its draft form before it is visible to the public, and the member of the technical team assigned to you will contact you for any modifications to be made before publishing the project in its final version.