An East LA-based Chicanx art collective spray-paints the exterior of an art museum in protest of the museum’s exclusionary practices. A Peruvian poet writes difficult and estranging poetry about poverty and suffering. A leftist studio releases a film in Germany the year before Hitler’s rise to power about the trials of a working-class family unable to afford rent. A cultural theorist claims that absurdist plays have more political force than those depicting human unfreedom. Where is the political in art and literature?
In this class, we’ll consider some of the ways that artworks, literary texts, and artists respond to social history. Explicit depictions of political crises, radical experimentations with genre and form, representations of marginalized groups, seemingly anti-art political actions and protests: all of these are places where artists and critics have understood their work to intersect with their political concerns. Considering an eclectic set of twentieth-century texts spanning various media, geographies, and times, we will ask where the political does and does not emerge in artistic practice. This course fulfills the first half of the University Reading & Composition (R&C) requirement.
We will dedicate ample time to developing our critical thinking and essay-writing skills, paying special attention to argumentation, analysis, and the basics of college-level writing.