Revolution—as a political, critical, and aesthetic idea—has emerged as one of the most urgent preoccupations of the present cultural moment. From North Africa, to the Middle East, to Wall Street, to the White House, we are grappling with the notion of seismic upheaval, with eruptions in the social, moral, and intellectual landscape.
Revolution, however, not only refers to a forcible overthrow of a government or social system but also carries the connotation of a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it.
What forms does revolution take in our current political/ cultural milieu? How is it achieved? In what sense is it reflected or predicted in critical theory, philosophy, literature, art, historical perspective?
This year, the Baker-Nord Humanities Center embraces a broad interpretation of revolution, and it thematic programming will explore these questions and contexts, opening up an interdisciplinary discussion about the nature, dimension, and multiple meanings of revolution.
For example, we are interested not just in recent political uprisings per se, but in the technological and intellectual shifts that enabled them. The so-called Arab Spring relied heavily on new forms of communication, Twitter and Face book, to organize and mobilize its ideology and action, and in doing so, draws our attention to contemporary shifts in the nature of communication—to the relationship between social and textual change, the history (and future?) of the printed word. More broadly, it raises queries about how change is initiated and motivated. We might think, as Anthony Appiah's latest book invites us to do, about How Moral Revolutions Happen. Turning to critical theory, recent writing on the idea of The Event has begun to explore the ways in which drastic shifts in ideology allow for an opening in the dominant perceptual and political system in any given moment.
Over a series of lectures, panel discussions, performances, and round-tables, we will grapple with these and related issues in a broadly humanistic, stimulating, and provocative exchange of ideas.
Revolution is happening. Join us.
Since its emergence,
capitalism has evoked powerful responses for and against, not simply as a theoretical economic model, but because it penetrates all aspects of life
in a society, deeply shapes and constrains our circumstances, and influences our convictions, actions, and even imagination. At the same time it gives
us little time to reflect, as the continuous adaptation to markets, consumer demands, expansions, and financial and political crises imposes on us
an ever–faster, dizzying pace of change in society and culture. All branches of the humanities and the arts have been grappling with understanding
and probing the blessings and curses of capitalism and with deciphering this humanly–created system. Since ideas, productions, and expressions also,
in one way or another, enter the market and its ever shifting demands, interpreting capitalism has become a distinctively challenging process.
When do capitalist ideas begin to take hold in societies and how have interpretations and assessments of capitalism changed over time? How can it be
critically assessed? Do academics enjoy the freedom to distance themselves from this system? How do artists, writers, and critics deal with market
forces in their cultural contributions and how do they respond to the idea of "art as commodity"? What is the relationship of art and market demands
in creative yet commercial fields, such as architecture and product design? How have religious practices and doctrines interacted with, critiqued, or
fortified capitalism? Has capitalism replaced religion, as some critics claim? Are there viable alternatives to capitalist approaches? What is behind
such associations as capitalism and democracy and capitalism and freedom? Join us when we go beyond stock prices and market analysis and open up broader
questions about the system that pervades society today.