Spring 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Brettell, Rick
Discipline and Number
HUAS 7305 Section 001
T Time 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
Art and Anarchism

Description of Course:


Ths course will focus on the manifold relationships between the socio-political theories of anarchism in the 19th and 20th centuries and the arts-- literary, musical, performative, and visual. It is a reading and research seminar in which students will work both individually and in teams on clusters of artists and theorists. Growing out of Dr. Brettell's work with anarchist theory and the art of Camille Pissarro, the course will in no way confine itself to this particular subject. Rather, it will use Dr. Brettell's work for his new book and exhibition PISSARRO'S PEOPLE as a spring-board to other artists and anarchist and/or libertarian political philosophy up to the present. Theorists to be discussed include Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Elisee Reclus, Bernard Lazare, Jean Grave, Matthew Arnold, William Godwin, Karl Marx,Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche,and others. Artists and writers are equally varied, but include Henry James,Joseph Conrad,Fyodor Dostoyevsky,Stephane Mallarme,Arthur Rimbaud,James Joyce, and Maria Vargas Llosa. Artists include prominent Neo-Impressionists, Dadists, Surrealists, and early advocates of gestural abstraction. Film makers are legion, but include almost all dada and surrealist filmmakers as well as the French New Wave. The theater is particularly rich, starting with Heinrich Ibsen and extending through Samuel Beckett.

Required Texts:

David Weir, ANARCHY AND CULTURE: THE AESTHETIC POLITICS OF MODERNISM (University of Massachusetts Press, 1997) and Ruth Kinna, ANARCHISM: BEGINNER'S GUIDE (OneWorld, 2009) are the only reading required of the entire seminar. In addition, students will be expected to become familiar with and to make extensive use of the website "Anarchy Archives." The McDermott Library also has extensive holdings of books dealing with anarchism, all of which will be placed on reserve for the seminar.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Each student will be required to choose one important anarchist theorist and one (or several closely related) artist(s) and to delve into their works. Students will be given specific assignments for 2 seminar reports and discussions, will be asked to contribute regularly to discussion, and will be required to write a 20-25 page research paper on a subject chosen in concert with the teacher.

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