WGS 393 • FILM CULS OF 1960S: SURREALISM
This seminar will introduce students to some of the formal, theoretical, and social circumstances of the integration of the various film and art world cultures of the 1960s in Europe and the United States by focusing on three central questions: What role did the revival of interest in Surrealism play in this integration, and how did it transform a contemporary sense of radical or avant-garde artistic practice and identity? How does an awareness of this integration and transformation alter a sense of the cultural production of the 1960s and its legacy? We will consider these questions through the lenses of a number of different key events, authors, and texts. We will begin with a discussion of two seminal texts on the avant-garde that were reprinted in the 1960s, Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1935/1969) and Clement Greenbergs Avant-garde and Kitsch (1939/1961). Then we will consider two models for radical film and photographic practice that were proposed during the decade: the revival of interest in Surrealism and Siegfried Kracauers Theory of Film. In the third section of the course, we will look at several case study intersections of film and art world cultures -- the work of Stan Brakhage, Shirely Clarke, Bruce Connor, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, and Andy Warhol specifically -- that played a significant role in redefining avant-garde culture in general and surrealist practice in particular during the decade. This section will be focused by the writings of the film critic Parker Tyler. We will conclude with a consideration of the 1996 exhibition Hall of Mirrors as evidence of the impact of the film/art cultures we have considered on more recent theories of the avant-garde.