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Gail Day, Dialectical Passions: Negation in Postwar Art Theory (Columbia University Press, 2010)
Cloth, 320 pages, 15 halftones
ISBN: 978-0-231-14938-9
$50.00 / £34.50 – Promo Code for 30% discount: ‘DAYDI’ on orders via:

Representing a new generation of theorists reaffirming the radical dimensions of art, Gail Day launches a bold critique of late twentieth-century art theory and its often reductive analysis of cultural objects. Exploring core debates in discourses on art, from the New Left to theories of “critical postmodernism” and beyond, Day counters the belief that recent tendencies in art fail to be adequately critical. She also challenges the political inertia that results from these conclusions.

Day organizes her defense around critics who have engaged substantively with emancipatory thought and social process: T. J. Clark, Manfredo Tafuri, Fredric Jameson, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, and Hal Foster, among others. She maps the tension between radical dialectics and left nihilism and assesses the interpretation and internalization of negation in art theory.

Chapters confront the claim that exchange and equivalence have subsumed the use value of cultural objects—and with it critical distance— and interrogate the proposition of completed nihilism and the metropolis put forward in the politics of Italian operaismo. Day covers the debates on symbol and allegory waged within the context of 1980s art and their relation to the writings of Walter Benjamin and Paul de Man. She also examines common conceptions of mediation, totality, negation, and the politics of anticipation. A necessary unsettling of received wisdoms, Dialectical Passions recasts emancipatory reflection in aesthetics, art, and architecture.

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NEW TITLE:  The Situationists and the City

Edited and Translated by TOM MCDONOUGH

Published 15th February 2010


“An extraordinary banquet for the subversive imagination served by the master chefs of Situationism.” – Mike Davis

“A brilliant array of reports, manifestoes, stories, and scenarios concerning architecture and urbanism, this expertly edited volume might serve as a guide in our contemporary confrontation with an urban environment once again rolled by capital.” – Hal Foster


The Situationist International were one of the most important radical groups to have emerged in the rush of twentieth century avant-garde projects after the first world war. Led by the Hegelian philosopher, anarcho-Leninist revolutionary, avant-garde film maker, romantic, alcoholic, theorist of the ‘society of the spectacle’ and original psychogeographer Guy Debord they caused havoc in art galleries, cinemas and, most importantly, on the streets of Paris in May 1968.

The work of the Situationist International on the city has reverberated through contemporary culture. The Situationists invented the concept of psychogeography, the idea that we are drawn to or repelled from particular areas by a unique combination of emotional and historical ambiences – they saw the city as alive and the tumult of its history bleeding through its architecture and through the very planning of the streets. They also saw the city as a place of revolution and imagined that society could be changed if the urban framework was transformed.

Most of their pieces were first published in their journal INTERNATIONALE SITUATIONISTE (the style of which is replicated by the book cover). Now, for the first time, the key work of the Situationists on the city, and of key early allies such as theorist Henri Lefebvre and architect Constant, has been collected into one illustrated volume.


Tom McDonough is Associate Professor of Modern Architecture and Urbanism in the Art History Department at Binghamton University. He is the editor of GUY DEBORD AND THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL and the author of THE BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE OF MY CENTURY.

He is also an editor of GREY ROOM, a journal which brings together scholarly and theoretical articles from the fields of architecture, art, media, and politics to forge a cross-disciplinary discourse uniquely relevant to contemporary concerns.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 364 3  $26.95 / £14.99 / $29.95 / Paperback / 244 pages

ISBN: 978 1 84467 332 2 $110.00 / £65.00 / $121.00 / Hardback / 244 pages


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UPDATE 19th June 2010:

Tom McDonough and Owen Hatherley discussing Situationists in the City at the ICA on Wednesday 16th June:

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Edward Said


The University of Warwick
Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, presents:

The 6th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture


Professor EYAL WEIZMAN (Director, Centre for Research in Architecture, Goldsmiths College, London. Author of Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (2007)

“Political Plastic: Spatial Politics in Israel and Palestine”

On Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010, 6 pm, in the Ramphal Building, Room RO.21

For more info: contact Professor Neil Lazarus (, or the English Department on 02476 524928

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Tate Britain. Auditorium
Tuesday, 8 December 2009, 18.30–20.00

Kojin Karatani: ‘The End of Capitalism? Revolution and Repetition’
Capitalism may be on the verge of extinction, but it will not end by itself, because states do everything possible to prolong its life. Setting out from Marx’s discussion of repetition the The 18th Brumaire, this talk will outline a series of historical forms of repetition – repetition in the state, in capital and in revolution – and a new periodization of stages of capitalist development based on modes of exchange, in order to propose a new definition of the historical present.
Kojin Karatani is the author of Architecture as Metaphor (1995) and Transcritique: On Kant and Marx (2003) and a founder of the New Associationist Movement in Japan.

Peter Osborne, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University and an editor of the journal Radical Philosophy will act as Chair and Respondent.

The Auditorium, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1
£8 each talk (£6 concessions) or £25 for all 4 (£20 concessions) or tel. 020-7887-8888

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