Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Course Description

Revolutionary Constellations:
Seeing Beyond Failed Revolts through Cinema and Spatial Interventions

Summer Session II
M/W 11 - 1:50
Section ID: 813111

Course fulfills
TMC: Upper division disciplinary breadth and writing for non-humanities/fine arts majors
ERC:  Regional Specialization or Group B Fine Arts (By Petition) and Writing Requirement
Revelle: Area of Focus
Warren: Literature or Humanities Program of Concentration or Area Study
Sixth: Narrative, Aesthetics, Historical Reasoning

In this course, we examine films, literature, and artwork that allow us to see beyond the moment of failed revolution or revolt. Our early discussions revolve around two historical flashpoints of revolutionary action that are linked like two stars in the same constellation: The Paris Commune of 1871 and the uprisings of May 1968. Beginning with these events, we consider how failure, be it the physical annihilation or political co-optation of a revolt, does not equate to the ultimate defeat of a revolution. We will look at films that suggest that revolutionary desire, like light from a dead star, travels along unexpected paths where it is rekindled in new artistic and social practices.

The second part of the course explores this possibility in the context of the Americas, looking at several revolts against state and imperial violence that seemed to end in failure, including the massacre of student protestors in Tlatelolco in 1968 a self-immolation in protest of the American War in Vietnam in 1970, the violent deaths of the Attica prison insurrectionists in 1971, and the mass disappearances of Chileans during the U.S. backed coup of 1973. We will critique the notion that “failure” in each of these cases can be calculated by the destruction of the body or the dismantling of the movement. As entry-points into our discussions, we will view films that illuminate the haunting influence that these events have on people’s lives long after the streets have been cleared of protest or washed of blood. Students will have the option of collaborating on creative final projects.

* Films include Nostalgia for the Light (2011), La Commune (2000), Babette's Feast (1987), Tout Va Bien (1972), The Square (2012)

* Course texts include Alain Badiou's The Communist Hypothesis, Kristin Ross's May '68 and Its Afterlives, and Roberto BolaƱo's Amulet

Anti-War Movements: Histories and Legacies

For those enrolled in the class or thinking about enrolling, this event may be of interest:

Facebook Event Page: Anti-War Movements: Histories and Legacies

A recent article in UCSD News describes the histories of anti-war activism at UCSD:

"Student activism at UC San Diego directed against U.S. military intervention abroad began as early as the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. It intensified as the country became more heavily involved in Vietnam. Sentiments against the war exploded after the invasion of Cambodia at the end of April 1970. As a way of showing their opposition to what they considered an unjust and widening war, students at UC San Diego joined nationwide student protests. Their actions expressed their desire for an end to the violence. It was during this time that George Winne, Jr., a graduating senior in history, chose to self-immolate in Revelle Plaza on May 10. Winne's act came just days after the infamous Kent State killings, during the largest wave of protests in the history of American higher education."
Full story: New Campus Memorial Honors Protestors for Peace

On May 9, we will commemorate these histories by officially unveiling The May 1970 Peace Memorial. The memorial was designed by students in The Dimensions of Culture Program to restore a marginalized chapter of campus history to public space. By making these histories visible, the memorial asks students to consider their place amid ongoing struggles for peace and justice.