All posts tagged: Book review

Framing the Audience: Art and the Politics of Culture in the United States, 1929-1945

Reviewed by Elizabeth Eikmann, Saint Louis University Isadora Helfgott. Framing the Audience: Art and the Politics of Culture in the United States, 1929-1945. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015. 326 pages. 21 color plates. The culture wars of the years surrounding the 1930s are known for the many and well-fought domestic battles over high art, popular culture, and consumerism. During this era, the barriers between high and popular art upheld by centuries of tradition came crumbling down as leftist American artists worked to redefine the relationship between art and the greater society. Mass circulation of visual media gave 1930s Americans unprecedented access to art and, as scholars such as Michael Denning have argued, it would be during this decade that art gained a new power to create, challenge, and reinforce ideas about national politics, economy, and identity. While numerous scholars have focused their work on the art produced during this time, Isadora Helfgott’s Framing the Audience: Art and the Politics of Culture in the United States, 1929-1945 flips the focus onto the figures behind and beyond the …

Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience

Reviewed by Ryan Watson W.J.T. Mitchell, Bernard Harcourt, and Michael Taussig. Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2013. Paperback. 152 pp. How does one properly theorize and historicize a movement like Occupy that is inherently shape-shifting, leaderless, intimately tied to specific contexts and places, and still evolving? In Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience, three scholars from different disciplines, Bernard Harcourt (Law/Political Science), W.J.T. Mitchell (Visual Studies), and Michael Taussig (Anthropology), contribute to an emerging discourse about the role that Occupy might play as both a tactic and metonym for an inchoate type of political refusal—a form of “disobedience” that signals a new way of challenging entrenched forms of power. The text, comprising three interlinked essays, is what Mitchell refers to as a “stab at a second draft” of history that moves from the specificity of events in Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 to more general thoughts on the concept of occupation and the possibilities of revolutionary change. Mitchell’s thoughtful introduction elucidates some of the productive tensions that emerge from …