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MARX AND THE AESTHETIC: AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

See: http://marxandtheaesthetic.org/

University of Amsterdam, May 10-13th, 2012

The aim of this conference is twofold: on the one hand, to analyse the role of the aesthetic in the writings of Marx and, on the other, to examine works of art and literature which are based on, or have been directly inspired by, Marx’s writings. At the core of this conference, then, is an attempt to think the immanent relation between the aesthetic and emancipatory conceptions of politics.

Previous attempts to make sense of Marx and Engels in terms of aesthetics have either been Marxist in a very broad sense – writing as productive force, aesthetic autonomy as critique of the commodity form, the critique of aesthetic ideologies etc. – or Marxological in a naïve sense i.e., merely assembling in one volume the stray comments on art and literature that pepper Marx’s and Engels’ writings. The problem with the first attempt is that it simply assumes that there is a prominent lacuna with respect to the aesthetic in Marx himself and that, therefore, Marxian grammar and vocabulary were in need of radical transformation. The failure of the second approach (although these attempts call for reconsideration in their own right, since they are now all about 40 years old) was that it restricted the understanding of “aesthetics” to statements dealing explicitly with art and literature.

Recent debates concerning the aesthetic (to be distinguished from aesthetics as a discipline), however, have allowed for a different understanding of the field. The aesthetic crosses disciplinary boundaries and cannot be restricted to specific subjects. The aesthetic is a form of thought in which a whole host of complex and interrelated issues are at stake: the orders of mind and matter, the disruptive dynamics of sense perception, expression and of metaphor, the logics of innovation and of “the event,” the indeterminate character of semiotic systems and so on. Aesthetics cannot, therefore, be restricted to art alone and does not even necessarily coincide with it. In other words, the aesthetic is in a constant state of “migration.” Authors like Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe and Rancière, among others, have pointed out the way in which all radical attempts to theorize the political are profoundly dependent on figures of the aesthetic. The “aesthetico-political” has become a name for all aesthetic dynamics that cross (and confound) the hegemonic orders of reason and the established channels of perception.

Against this backdrop, the entire history of radical political thought must be reconsidered. Socio-philosophical and strategically political claims, which were never originally considered as aesthetic, e.g. Sohn-Rethel’s notion that “Communism is the overcoming of the separation between intellectual and manual labor,” now appear in a new light. 
The texts of Marx himself have not yet been sufficiently interpreted and reconstructed in these terms. And yet in these writings innumerable figures of the aesthetic are, so to speak, at work. From notions of an “aesthetics of production” to the “poetry of the future”, from the radical modernism of bourgeois development to the very idea of “free association,” from references to Shakespeare and Dante in the original texts as well as in important translations, to the idea that bourgeois politics is nothing but a theatrical stage, the aesthetic has an undeniably prominent place in Marx’s thought.

Conversely, Marx’s work has also become extremely rich “raw material” for artistic production. From theatre works on Capital to the Chinese attempt to stage this text as an opera, from Sergej Eisenstein’s and Alexander Kluge’s attempts to make a film of Capital to Rainer Ganahl’s reading seminars, from the work of Zachary Formwalt and Milena Bonilla to that of Phil Collins: these artists are producing Marx as an “aesthetic event.”

In short, in Marx the aesthetic and the political are immanently related: this conference aims to explore how.

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to the following:

– Aesthetic Production in the Early Writings

– Marx and Engels as Historians of Literature

– Modernism in the Manifesto

– Aesthetico-Political Associationism

– Aesthetic Form and Commodity Form

– Marx’s Method and the “Aesthetic Regime of Art”

– Revolutionary Shakespeare

– Monsters and Ghosts

– Eisenstein, Kluge and the Cinematography of Capital

– Staging Capital (Opera, Theatre)

– Brecht’s Communist Manifesto

– Images of Marx in Painting and Sculpture

– The Beauty of Communism

Confirmed Speakers

Keynote: Boris Groys (NYU)

Keynote: Terrell Carver (University of Bristol)

Keynote: Jochen Hörisch (Universität Mannheim)

Keynote: Kristin Ross (NYU)

Ruth Sonderegger (Akademe der Bildenden Künste, Wien)

Sven Lütticken (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

Kati Röttger (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Josef Früchtl (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Helmar Schramm (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Clint Burnham (Simon Fraser University,Vancouver)

Gary Teeple (Simon Fraser University,Vancouver)

Confirmed Artists:

Rainer Ganahl

Phil Collins

Zachary Formwalt

Milena Bonilla

**END**

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLjxeHvvhJQ (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a new song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Marxism and Culture

MARXIST LITERARY GROUP SUMMER INSTITUTE ON CULTURE AND SOCIETY

 

Monday, June 20

9:00-10:15: MARXISM AND BOURGEOIS REVOLUTION 
Spencer Leonard: Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: Proletarian Socialism Continuing the Bourgeois Revolution?
Pamela Nogales: Marx on the U.S. Civil War as the 2nd American Revolution
Jeremy Cohan: Lukács on Marx’s Hegelianism and the Dialectic of Marxism

10:30-11:30: WAR AND SOCIAL CLASS
Pat Keeton: “Class, War, and Class War: Changing Ideology in American Films from Vietnam to Post-9/11
Peter Scheckner: “End of Empire: How American Cinema since Vietnam Narrates the Erosion of American Global Power.

12:30-1:30: ROUNDTABLE: AFTER GLOBALIZATION

1:45-3:00: POLITICS AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Eric Vazquez: Counterinsurgency’s Suppositions
Joel Nickels: From Spontaneity to Self-government: Imagining Self-Organization in the Twentieth Century and Beyond
Gino Signoracci: Marxism and Eastern Thought: Toward a Philosophy of Perpetual Revolution?

3:15-4:45: COMMODITIES
Ariane Pasternak: Commodity Fetishism and the Feminized Sphere of Non-Value
Ericka Beckman: Seeing the World System: The Latin American “Commodity Novel”
Sina Rahmani: Einwaggonieren: Containerization, Displacement, and the “Forbidden Commodities”
Max Haiven: Abject Finance: Wal-Mart and the Unbankables

7:00: FILM SCREENING: SHASHWATI TALUKDAR’S PLEASE DON’T BEAT ME, SIR.

Tuesday, June 21

9:00-10:15: HISTORY, LITERATURE, REVOLUTION
Eldon Birthwright: Caribbean Literature and the Sanitizing of History
Sheshalatha Reddy: Bodies in Bondage, Bodies in Labor: Class Consciousness and the “Oppressed Natives” in the Morant Bay Uprising
Aisha Karim: Literature and Revolution

10:30-11:45: RACE, REVOLUTION, POSTCOLONIALITY
Julie Fiorelli: Recurrent Revolutions? Arna Bontemps’s Conception of Time and African American Race-War Novels of the Late 1960s
LaRose Parris: The African Diasporic Proletariat
Henry Schwarz: Marxism and Postcolonial Studies

1:00-2:30: READING GROUP: ANTONIO GRAMSCI 
Led by Jaafar Aksikas

2:45-4:00: REVOLUTION AS EVENT
Kanishka Chowdhury: Revolution and the “Hidden Abode of Production”
Barbara Foley: Event, Non-Event, and “Arrested Dialectic”: The Aftermath of 1919.
Neil Larsen: Revolution as Event and the Temporality of Crisis

4:15-5:30: REVOLUTION AND UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT, AKA THE SPATIAL DIALECTIC 
Laura Martin: Colonial Servitude in the Transition to Capitalism.
Joe Ramsey: Learning from Failures, and from Afar: The Problem of Revolutionary Subjectivity in the US of A, Today

5:45-6:30: WHAT IS A MARXIST POLITICS TODAY?
Oded Nir: Waltz With Bashir: Mediating Class In and Out of Globalized Israeli Culture
Niamh Mulcahy: Class Struggle and the Possibility of a Science of Aleatory History
Andrew Culp: Three Theses for Marxist Politics Today
Joshua Kurz, respondent

Wednesday, June 22

9:00-10:15: AESTHETICS AND POLITICS
Vin Adiutori: Appearance and Phantasm: Reconfiguring Misrecognition
Anthony Squiers: Rethinking Brecht’s Split Character: Dialectics, Social Ontology and Literary Technique
Eleanor Kaufman: Revolution and the Question of Party in Sartre, Brecht, and Badiou

10:30-11:45: BETWEEN REVOLUTIONS: RESISTANCE, CULTURAL POLITICS, AND THE CLICHÉ
Joe Hughes: Ethico-Aesthetics and the Politics of the Cliché
Christian Haines: “It is you who give the life”: On Walt Whitman, Cultural Revolution, and Biopolitics
Hyeryung Hwang: “I prefer not to”: Embodied Subjectivity as the Site of Resistance

1:00-2:30: READING GROUP: MARXISM AND FEMINISM REVISITED 
Led by Ann Mattis and Susan Comfort)

2:45-4:00: THE MARXISM OF SECOND INTERNATIONAL RADICALISM: LENIN, LUXEMBURG, TROTSKY AND LUKÁCS 
Chris Cutrone: Vladmir Lenin
Greg Gabrellas: Rosa Luxemburg
Ian Morrison: Leon Trotsky
Spencer Leonard, respondent

4:15-5:30:  END TIMES
Mathias Nilges: The Tenses of Form or, Literature at the End of Time
Brent Bellamy: Foreclosing Revolution, or the Apocalyptic Contradiction of Late Capitalism
Eui Kang: Apocalyptic Marx

7:00: FILM SCREENING: MICHAEL TRUSCELLO’S CAPITALISM IS THE CRISIS

Thursday, June 23

9:00-10:15: HISTORY I
Lucas Johnson: Measuring History in the Post-National
Jackson Petsche: Marxism, Posthumanism, and the Future of Animal Liberation
Nathaniel Boyd: Re-thinking the Contingent Political Sequence of Revolutionary Class Struggle

10:30-11:45: HISTORY II
Grover Furr: Why Is It Vital To All of Us To Get the Stalin Period Right?
Ryan Culpepper: 5 Years After the 1929 Economic Collapse
Justin Sully: Population Decline and the Historical Lateness of Capitalism

1:00-2:30: READING GROUP: C.L.R. JAMES AND JAMES BOGGS 
Led by Joel Woller

2:45-3:45: THE PERIPHERAL STANDPOINT
Jefferson Agostini Mello: Desiring the World: A New Brazilian Culture?
Maria Elisa Cevasco: Misplaced Ideas: What We Can Learn from How Ideas Fare in Brazil

4:00-5:00: BUSINESS MEETING

7:00: FILM SCREENING: ANDREW FRIEND’S WORKERS’ REPUBLIC

Friday, June 24

8:45-10:15: LITERATURE I
Emilio Sauri: Cognitive Mapping, Then and Now
David Aitchison: Literature and Revolution: Radical Politics and the Novel in the U.S.A.
Jen Hammond: The Lyric Moment and Revolution
Madeleine Monson-Rosen: The Structure of Media Revolution: Thomas Pynchon and the Politics of Paradigm Shift

10:30-12:00: LITERATURE II
Jonathan Poore: John Steinbeck and the Proletarian Aesthetic
Carolyn Lesjak: Realism and Revolution
Peter Gardner: The Political Unconscious of A Farewell to Arms
Kristin Bergen: Gertrude Stein and the Relation of Political Periodization to Aesthetic Form

1:00-2:30: READING GROUP: THE STRUCTURE OF REVOLUTION 
Led by Joe Ramsey and Rich Daniels

2:45-4:00: GUY DEBORD
Sarah Hamblin: Repetition as a Revolutionary Aesthetic in the Cinema of Guy Debord
Jane Winston: Revolution in Debord
Vanessa R. S. Cavalcanti and Antonio Carlos Silva: The Society of the Spectacle to the Beat of the Capital: a Contribution to the Criticism of Modernity’s Ritual

6:30: MLG BARBECUE

Marxist Literary Group: http://mlg.eserver.org/the-institute/2011-chicago/

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Cultural Marxism

MARXISM IN CULTURE PROGRAMME FOR SUMMER TERM 2011

Friday 06 May
On Life in Marx
Stewart Martin (Middlesex University)

Friday 20 May
Capitalism and capital letters: the politics of typographic case
Gavin Edwards (Institute of English Studies)

Friday 03 June
Beyond Propaganda: Notes on Contemporary Cuban Art
Stephanie Schwartz (University College London)

Friday 17 June
Art and Value: An Economic Analysis of Contemporary Art
Dave Beech (Chelsea College of Art & Design)

All seminars start at 5.30pm, and are held in the Wolfson Room (unless otherwise indicated) at the Institute of Historical Research in Senate House, Malet St, London. The seminar closes at 7.30pm and retires to the bar.

Organisers: Matthew Beaumont, Alan Bradshaw, Warren Carter, Gail Day, Steve Edwards, Larne Abse Gogarty, Owen Hatherley, Esther Leslie, David Mabb, Antigoni Memou, Nina Power, Dominic Rhatz, Pete Smith & Alberto Toscano.

For further information, contact Warren Carter, at: w.carter@ucl.ac.uk or Esther Leslie at: e.leslie@bbk.ac.uk

***END***

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLjxeHvvhJQ (live, at the Belle View pub,Bangor, northWales)  

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com