HUMS 182, The Work of Art in The Age of Cultural Revolution

Meeting Time: 
M 1:30-3:20p

Culture wars are all the rage these days. But why do we say that works of art are political? What does that even mean? And, if it is true, what part do works of art play in the dynamics of social contest?  In concert with the special exhibition “Art, Protest, and the Archives” at the Beinecke, this seminar explores those questions by placing major works of literature in conversation with influential works of political and cultural theory. We will also periodize the claim that art is politics by other means, tracing the emergence of the historical avant-garde, modern theories of cultural revolution, and the culture wars by which social movements are typically dogged today. Readings will be drawn from artists such as Nanni Ballestrini, Aimé Césaire, Langston Hughes, Pedro Lemebel, Mina Loy, Claude McKay, Toni Morrison, Marge Piercy, Ishmael Reed, Muriel Ruckeyser, Peter Weiss, and Virginia Woolf, alongside theorists such as Walter Benjamin, James Boggs, the Combahee River Collective, Frantz Fanon, Shulamith Firestone, Silvia Federicci, Alexandra Kollantai, V. I. Lenin, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Sylvia Pankhurst, and others.