Marxism in Culture

Marxism and the Visual Arts Now poster

The Marxism in Culture seminar was set up in 2002 in the aftermath of the large international conference on Marxism and the Visual Arts Now held at UCL in April of that year.  Speakers have included:  Caroline Arscott, David Cunningham, Angela Dimitrakaki, Carol Duncan, Richard Godden, Tom Gretton, Suman Gupta, Simon Jarvis, Stathis Kouvelakis, David Mabb, David Margolies, Stewart Martin, Fred Orton, Alex Potts, Adrian Rifkin, Mark Sanders, Fred Schwartz, Greg Sholette, Julian Stallabrass, Blake Stimson, James Van Dyke, Ben Watson, O.K. Werckmeister, and many more.  This seminar series was conceived to provide a forum for those committed to the continuing relevance of Marxism for cultural analysis.  Both "Marxism" and "culture" are conceived here in a broad sense.  We understand Marxism as an ongoing self-critical tradition, and correspondingly the critique of Marxism's own history and premises is part of the agenda.  "Culture" is intended to comprehend not only the traditional fine arts, but also aspects of popular culture such as film, popular musics, and fashion.  From this perspective, conventional distinctions between the avant-garde and the popular, the elite and the mass, the critical and the commercial are very much open for scrutiny.  All historical inquiry is theoretically grounded, self-consciously or not, and theoretical work in the Marxist tradition demands empirical verification.

We welcome contributions that are concerned primarily with principles and methods as well as those that focus on the interpretation of particular cultural practices, historical or contemporary.  As with all the best examples of Marxist work, we hope to provide a forum for analysis that while it looks to the past is also marked by an urgent sense of present realities.

Programme for Summer 2015

Date Speaker Topic

Friday 8 May

Catherine Berger
The redeeming Power of Art: Romantic Anti-Capitalism in Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work
Friday 5 June
David Cunningham, Anke Hennig, Anthony Iles, Jan Levchenko, Marina Vishmidt
A Roundtable re-enactment of the Marxist-Formalist Debate.
This follws a day of discussion at Westminster University, further details from RetroFormalism
Friday 19 June
Alberto Toscano

Literature and the Time of Communism: Reading Furio Jesi and Franco Fortini Today.

5pm-8pm (please note earlier start time)

Programme for Spring 2015

Date Speaker Topic

Friday 23 January

Norah Campbell (Trinity College)
Nanotechnology: Imagining the Invisible
Thursday 5 February

A Special Marxism in Culture Seminar 

'Greece:The End of Austerity'

Screening of the documentary 'Greece: The End of Austerity' by Paul Mason and Theopi Skarlatos

Followed by an analysis of the Syriza's electoral victory by Paul Mason (Economics Editor Channel 4) and Stathis Kouvelakis (King's College London).


Lecture Theatre

The Open University London Regional Centre

1-11 Hawley Street

Camden Town

London NW1 8NP

Friday 6 March
Cesura Acceso
A special session organised by the journal Cesura Acceso on music and radical politics
Friday 20 March
Nick Beech (Oxford Brookes)

“…like the great arsehole of all creation”: Reading construction history with Henri Lefebvre and Karl Marx

Torrington Room 104

Programme for Autumn 2014

Date Speaker Topic

Friday 17 October

Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute)

Dave Beech (Chelsea College of Art and Design)

'Anti Frieze' - An anti-celebration of Frieze week
Friday 21 November

Gail Day (University of Leeds)

Briony Fer (UCL)

Cadence Kinsey (UCL)

Pete Smith

roundtable discussion

Book launch for Frances Stracey, Constructed Situations: A New History of the Situationist International (Pluto Press)

5-7.30pm UCL, Pearson G22 Lecture Theatre

followed by a drinks reception in the History of Art department at UCL

Friday 28 November
Jeremy Spencer (Camberwell College of Art and Design and the Open University)
Aesthetics and Politics within Godard's cinema
Friday 12 December
Danny Hayward (Birkbeck)
The Merely Schematic Contradictoriness of the Petty Bourgeois: An Aesthetic Inquiry

Organisers: Matthew Beaumont, Dave Beech, Alan Bradshaw, Warren Carter, Gail Day, Steve Edwards, Larne Abse Gogarty, Esther Leslie, David Mabb, Antigoni Memou, Chrysi Papaioannou, Nina Power, Dominic Rahtz, Pete Smith, Peter Thomas, Alberto Toscano.

The seminar meets four times a term.  All seminars start at 5.30pm, and are held in the Wolfson Room (unless otherwise stated) at the Institute of Historical Research in Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU.

The seminar closes at 7.30pm and retires to a bar.

For further information, contact Larne Abse Gogarty or Chrysi Papaioannou

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