Category Archives: Arts

Éric Morales-Franceschini: ‘Cuba Libre: On the Revolutionary Epic as “Redemptive Impatience”’

The revolutionary epic is never a “finished” narrative, let alone uniquely nefarious. The unruly and dense “archives” that revolutions (or an epic past) embody are liable to tell different stories, stories that bequeath different “lessons” and, thereby, possibilities.’

Jared Marcel Pollen: “For Percy Bysshe Shelley, Literature Was the Spark of the Revolution”

After the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the young radical poet Percy Bysshe Shelley proclaimed he was deserting “the odorous gardens of literature” for “the great sandy desert of politics.” Instead, he infused literature with revolutionary political ideas.

The tragedy of post-colonial self-determination

In her challenging book Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (2019)political scientist Adom Getachew discusses self-determination in the Anglophone Black Atlantic, with special emphasis on post-colonial independence as well as Caribbean and African federations.  It would be interesting to compare the political thought of intellectuals and statesmen such as George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, and Julius Nyerere, which she explores, with that of contemporary writers.  In particular, it would be fascinating to study the failure of self-determination that started in the 1960s in light of contemporary tragedies of autonomy that focused paradigmatically on Haiti, such as Monsieur Toussaint (1961) by Edouard Glissant, Toussaint (1961) by Lorraine Hansberry, Drums and Colors (1961) by Derek Walcott, The Tragedy of King Christophe (1963) by Aimé Césaire, and C. L. R. James’ revisions to The Black Jacobins (1962) that recast it as a post-colonial tragedy.

8 June 2022

The tragedy of Haiti in history, drama, and performance

Last week, as I read in The New York Times the four-day series
“The Ransom – The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers”
and I continued work on Aimé Césaire’s superb drama The Tragedy of King Christophe (1963, 1970)
for my book-length project The Tragedy of Revolution,
I took the train to Chicago and caught the last performance of the wonderful American premiere of this Shakespearean tragedy.
On the way home, I was reminded of what the Martinican Césaire said when talking about a visit to the Caribbean island:  “In Haiti I saw mainly what should not be done!  A country that had supposedly conquered its liberty … and which I saw more miserable than Martinique, which was a French colony! … It was tragic.”
30 May 2022

Malin Bång: “splinters of ebullient rebellion”

“We are also seeing many influential institutions, organizations, even governments gradually facing collapse when their actions and manifestations are colliding with the core values of the individuals they are made up by. We see how this friction generates a new spine of idealism with the aim to shift back the focus from simplified, one-dimensional explanations to contexts where the full spectrum of intricate details appear and where the multitude of voices that surround us are present.”

 

Jason Farago: “The Dangerous Beauty of Jacques-Louis David”

“A landmark exhibition of drawings at the Met brings us into the studio of the French Revolution’s chief propagandist, and stages the ultimate showdown of culture and politics.”

Billy Anania: “The General Strike in Modern Art”

“A massive strike wave in the 19th and 20th centuries redefined how painters, illustrators, and photographers advocate for the working class.”

Talya Zax: “How Did the Arab Spring Change Fiction?”

“That shift, from narratives of the revolution to stories about the psychological ramifications of those narratives, marks a natural evolution in the realm of Egyptian literature after Arab Spring.”

Billy Anania: “The Iconography of the Paris Commune, 150 Years Later”

A look back at how artists captured those few revolutionary months.

“How Revolution Inspired Modern Indian Artists”

“Over 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and archival sources trace the rise of a vibrant modern art movement from India’s colonial period through its independence.”