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Rights, Radicals, + Revolutions

“How do we become educated about our rights, radicals, and revolutions?” and “How do our sources and networks influence our opinions?” are among the critical questions for this year’s focus.  Below you will find an annotated bibliography of recommended sources from faculty, staff, and students that will provoke debate, confront convention, and promote civic engagement for this year’s focus, Rights, Radicals, + Revolutions. This list is a work in progress. Check back often.

Additional research sources and information links can be found on the Columbia College Chicago Library's Critical Encounters Research Guide site.

See something missing?  Please send submissions to amooney@colum.edu


BOOKS
to kick-start dialogue on Rights, Radicals, + Revolutions


Baraka, Amiri. The Changing Same (R&B and New Black Music). Black Music. New  York: William Morrow and Company (1968): 180-211. Baraka connects modern black music (namely the work of James Brown and John Coltrane) to the deep tradition of black spirituality, arguing that R&B and progressive jazz glorify two different manifestations of God – the God of the “everyday” and the God of transcendence. He advocates a joining of these two perspectives in the development of a new black music that is grounded in the specifics of the everyday, yet striving toward the unknown. Though this piece was first published in 1966, it prefigures much of the socially-conscious black soul of the early 1970s. Related listening includes: Coltrane, A Love Supreme; Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On.

Boggs, Grace Lee. The Next American Revolution:  Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis-political, economical, and environmental-and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities.

Boggs, James. Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century. Monthly Review Press, U.S. (December 5, 1974)
This book provides a concise and instructive review of the revolutions of the twentieth century, with separate chapters on the Russian, Chinese, Guinea-Bissau, and Vietnamese revolutions, in which the authors seek to extract the principle lessons from each of these struggles and the special course taken by each. In these and in a summary chapter on the dialectics of revolution the authors furnish a picture of the principal aspects of Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, and the other currents of Marxism active in the revolutions of our times. A second section is devoted to the United States, and begins with a survey of the class forces in American history from the settlement of the original thirteen colonies to the present, with special attention to the enslaved black population. Thereafter, the authors present their ideas on the objects and means of an American Revolution.

Bryan-Wilson, Julia. Art Workers:  Radical Practices in the Vietnam War Era. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, in response to the political turbulence generated by the Vietnam War, an important group of American artists and critics sought to expand the definition of creative labor by identifying themselves as "art workers." The author shows how a polemical redefinition of artistic labor played a central role in minimalism, process art, feminist criticism, and conceptualism. By connecting social art history and theories of labor, this book illuminates the artworks and protest actions that were central to this pivotal era in both American art and politics.

Collins, Lisa Gail and Margo Natalie Crawford. New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement. NJ:  Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Exploring a rich array of media, genres, artists, and thinkers, these essays together constitute an impressively vigorous call for continued revaluation of the Black Arts Movement as a gritty, nuanced, and still-influential period of black expressive ferment

Craven, David. Art and Revolution in Latin American Art, 1900-1990. New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press (2006).
This survey considers the art and politics of the three great revolutions in Latin America in the last century: Mexico (1910-40), Cuba (1959-89), and Nicaragua (1979-90). Craven addresses the logic of each movement's artworks and demonstrates how the consequences of each revolution transcended national borders.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York, NY. Random House, 1952. 
Considered a radical approach to the discussion of race relations in the twentieth Century, Ellison's epic novel has become one of the cornerstones of American literature. It directly takes on questions about identity on several levels. In addition to the subject matter, Ellison also reshaped the image of the American novel.

Gomez-Peña, Guillermo and Roberto Sifuentes. Exercises for Rebel Artists: Radical Performance Pedagogy.  New York, NY: Routledge (2011).

Designed to take readers right into the heart of radical performance, the authors use a series of crucial practical exercises, honed in workshops worldwide (including CCC!), to help create challenging theatre which transcends the boundaries of nation, gender, and racial identity.

hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress:  Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York, NY: Routledge (1994).
hooks declares that education today is failing students by refusing to acknowledge their particular histories. Criticizing the teaching establishment for employing an over-factualized knowledge to deny and suppress diversity, she accuses colleagues of using "the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power." Far from a castigation of her field, however, Teaching to Transgress is full of hope and excitement for the possibility of education to liberate and include.

Jackson, Shannon. Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. New York, NY:  Routledge (2011). At a time when art world critics and curators heavily debate the social, and when community organizers and civic activists are reconsidering the role of aesthetics in social reform, this book makes explicit some of the contradictions and competing stakes of contemporary experimental art-making.


Kester, Grant H. Art, Activism, + Oppositionality. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, (1998).
The author insists not only on the continuing relevance of an activist stance to contemporary art practice and criticism, but also on the significance of an engaged art practice that is aligned with social or political activism.

Kot, Greg. Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music.
The Chicago Sun-Times music critic looks into some specific examples related to copyright, the digital revolution, file sharing, and the reconfiguration of music audiences in the last fiftenn years. Kot is co-host of Sound Opinions, a weekly radio show full of witty banter and clever music nerdery, with Jim DeRogatis (formerly the pop critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, and currently full-time faculty in journalism at Columbia College).

Lewis, George. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental  Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2008). Lewis presents a comprehensive and compelling history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a Chicago collective of Black experimentalist composers and improvisers founded in 1965. The AACM offered (and continues to offer) a powerful alternative to the musical and social organizations associated with avant-garde jazz and black music more broadly. “Faced with shrinking economic opportunities in Chicago and a segregated music industry, the original members of the AACM found inspiration in the civil rights movement’s call for change through self- determination and collective action.”  
Related listening: Art Ensemble of Chicago, Urban Bushmen; Air, Air Mail.
 
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. Berkeley, CA:  The Crossing Press (1984)
This collection reflects Lorde's struggles with and attacks against racism, heterosexism/homophobia, poverty/classism/capitalism, ageism, and other oppressions ("the deaths we are expected to live" p. 38). Although primarily focused on the United States, the book begins with an essay entitled "Notes from a Trip to Russia" and ends with "Grenada Revisited," a reflection on the U.S. invasion in 1983.

Mahon, Maureen. Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race. Durham, NC: Duke University Press (2004).
The Black Rock Coalition is a collective that was founded in the late 1980s in New York with the goal of creating outlets for rock music written and performed by black artists. The book addresses questions of agency, authenticity, and aesthetics in black music and its relationship to the broader popular music industry. Related listening: Living Coulour, Vivid; Bad Brains, I Against I.
 
Monson, Ingrid. Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2007).
Monson addresses the connections between jazz culture and the Civil Rights Movement across the 1950s and ’60s. The book discusses the ideological debates undertaken by black communities at midcentury and the ways that the contours of those debates influenced and was influenced by artistic production. Related listening: Max Roach, We Insist! Freedom Now Suite.
 
Radano, Ronald. New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1993).
Anthony Braxton is an AACM member and a leading experimental composer and saxophonist. In this study of his life and work, Radano explores the ways that Braxton’s artistic production has been pigeonholed as a result of his race and professional affiliations and the ways that Braxton has fought back against those prejudices to carve out a personal space between multiple musical worlds. Related listening: Anthony Braxton, For Alto; Live in London.

Rampersad, Arnold. Ralph Ellison, A Biography. New York, NY. Alfred A. Knopf. 2007.
An excellent companion piece for students reading Ellison's Invisible Man for the first time. The book shatters many preconceived notions of Ellison as it takes readers from Ellison's beginnings in Oklahoma to the streets of New York.

Shilts, Randy. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press. 1982.
A biography of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated by a former fellow supervisor. Decades later, Milk is still heralded as an icon of the gay rights movement in the United States.
 
Smiley, Tavis. Fail Up. United States. Smiley Books, 2011.
In his latest memoir, activist, author and entrepreneur Tavis Smiley discusses his "failures" that have made him successful. The book discusses the formation of values and what it takes to maintain those values.  
 
West, Cornel. Ritz David. Brother West; Living and Loving Out Loud, a Memoir. United States. Smiley Books, 2009.
West discusses his core tenets, rooted in Christian tradition, and how he has blended them with modern art forms such as Blues and Hip Hop.
 
Wilson, August. Gem of the Ocean. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2006.
In this first play of August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle Series set in 1904, it is hard to define the hero or the radical. As in many of Wilson’s plays, courageous acts often lead to death, but death often leads to freedom and revolution.
 
Wright, Richard. The Outsider. United States. Harper and Brothers, 1953.
Maryemma Graham wrote in the book’s introduction that Wright’s leading character, Cross Damon “is a good example of Wright’s attempt to cast light upon the revolutionary potential of the average black person …” Wright fiercely takes on the death of self and the birth of self in a way few authors at the time had ever done.

FILMS
on the Rights, Radicals, + Revolutions theme

The Battle of Algiers. Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo. Allied Artists Corporation, 1966.
A cinematic blueprint for revolution heralded in its authentic depiction of the clash between the colonized Arab Algerians and their French occupiers. The documentary aesthetic exploits the identification mechanisms of cinema to justify attacks of insurrectionary violence on behalf of an entire violated peoples rather than the will of a fanatical minority. The film has been screened worldwide including  the Pentagon, Argentinean military, and various urban guerilla outfits in hopes of understanding the ideology of insurgent groups as well providing tactical strategies for guerilla warfare.

The Thin Blue Line. Dir. Errol Morris. Miramax, 1988. Documentary
Investigates the story of Randall Dale Adams, sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Morris revolutionized  the documentary aesthetic through  formalistic reenactments forgoing the standard verite style documentaries are known for.  This led to very concrete actions of liberation as the conviction was overturned and Adams released from prison a year after the films release.

Waltz With Bashir. Dir. Ari Folman. Sony Pictures, 2008. Documentary
A first of its kind, Waltz with Bashir is an animated documentary  which renders a fascinating explication  and indictment of war film ideology, religious fanaticism/fundamentalism, imperialistic militarization, and jingoistic fetishism. The narrative follows Ari Folman, as he searches for memories of his involvement in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war and the Sabre and Shatila massacre which occurred during this conflict. The narrative is a phantasmagoric hyper cinematic psychic topography which is less of an autobiography than it is a layering of a collective unconscious.

 


JOURNALS

that inform on the theme Rights, Radicals, + Revolution


In These Times: A nonprofit, independent monthly magazine "dedicated to reporting the news with the highest journalistic standards; to informing and analyzing movements for social, environmental and economic justice; and to providing an accessible forum for debate about the policies that shape our future." Read it or subscribe at inthesetimes.com; also available in LexisNexis Academic.

Mother Jones: A nonprofit news organization offering a bimonthly magazine and 24/7 website featuring investigative, political, and social justice reporting. Read it or subscribe at motherjones.com; also available on Academic Search Premier.

The Nation: A weekly independent newsmagazine that pledges to "make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred." Read limited content available to nonsubscribers, or subscribe at thenation.com. Also available in Academic Search Premier.

RADICAL TEACHER, founded in 1975, is a socialist, feminist, and anti-racist journal dedicated to the theory and practice of teaching. It serves the community of educators who are working for democratic process, peace, and justice. The magazine examines the root causes of inequality and promotes progressive social change. RADICAL TEACHER publishes articles on classroom practices and curriculum, as well as on educational issues related to gender and sexuality, disability, culture, globalization, privatization, race, class, and other similar topics.


MUSIC

inspired by Rights, Radicals, + Revolution 

Air. 1978. Air Time. Nessa LP N-12. 
Art Ensemble of Chicago. 1982. Urban Bushmen. ECM LP 1211/12.
Bad Brains. 1986. I Against I. SST LP 065.
Braxton, Anthony. 1969. For Alto. Delmark LP DS-420/21.
Braxton, Anthony. 1988. Quartet (London) 1985. Leo LP LR 414/15/16.
 Coltrane, John. 1965. A Love Supreme. Impulse! LP AS-77.
 Gaye, Marvin. 1971. What’s Going On? Tamla LP S-310.
Iyer, Vijay and Mike Ladd. 2003. In What Language? Pi Recordings CD PI09.
Kuti, Fela Ransome and The Afrika 70. 1973. Gentleman. EMI LP NEMI 009.
Living Colour. 1988. Vivid. Epic LP 44099.
The Last Poets. 1971. The Last Poets. Douglas LP Z-30811.
Roach, Max. 1960. We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite. Candid LP CJM 8002.
Sun Ra. 1965. The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. ESP LP 1014.

 

WEBSITES
discussing current issues and ideas around Rights, Radicals, + Revolution

 
Alternet.org: AlterNet is an award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources. AlterNet’s aim is to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more.
 
Blackagendareport.com: Views from the black academics on the left. In the fall of  2006, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and Leutisha Stills of CBC Monitor left Black Commentator, which Ford had co-founded and edited since 2002, and launched Black Agenda Report.
 
Blackcommentator.com: An independent weekly internet magazine dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace.

TheRoot.com: The Root is a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today's news from a variety of black perspectives. The site also hosts an interactive genealogical section featuring information and advice from Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is also The Root's editor-in-chief. The Root aims to be an unprecedented departure from traditional American journalism, raising the profile of black voices in mainstream media and engaging anyone interested in black culture around the world.
 
Truthdig.org: Truthdig is a news website that provides expert coverage of current affairs as well as a variety of thoughtful, provocative content assembled from a progressive point of view. The site is built around reports by authorities in their fields who conduct in-depth exploration of contemporary topics. To offer frequent change and surprise, the site also presents a diversity of original reporting and aggregated content culled by the site's editors and staff.