Seminar Program Updates

Changed to fall term

The Life Project
Carrie Lambert-Beatty (Department of History of Art and Architecture and of Visual and Environmental Studies)
Freshman Seminar 30X     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Added to catalog for fall term

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Russian Revolution Imagined, Documented, Advertised)
Vera Koshkina (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 62C    4 credits (fall term)   Enrollment: Limited to 12

Note: The seminar includes required trips: a visit to the Harvard Art Museum to examine original artwork, special screenings of 35mm films at the Harvard Film Archive, and a visit to view the rare books collection at the Houghton Library.

Political change takes place in images and on screens as much as on the streets. Activists, artists and politicians have long understood that pictures speak to global audiences beyond spoken language. However images serve to expose and document as much as to mask and suppress other realities. This seminar examines the role images played in the Russian Revolution of 1917 in its attempts to fundamentally transform existing social order. The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in the fall of 2017 serves as an occasion to explore it as one of the first political uprisings in which modern media – photography, poster art, moving images – were used to imagine, document, represent and suppress revolutionary change. Even before 1917, artist ignited revolutionary imagination in breaking with representational conventions and bringing new media into their creative work. The Soviet State subsequently adapted their representational strategies and new technologies. In 1918, the so-called Soviet agitation trains traveled to remote villages bringing documentary footage of the Russian Revolution to mostly illiterate peasant audiences, spreading the visual story of revolution before the coming of television. We will consider the legacy of the imaginings, transmissions and visual manipulations of history, looking at photography, visual art, documentary and feature film, folk art, children’s drawings, propaganda posters, and public spectacles and festivals. We will also read theoretical texts by artists, writers, filmmakers and politicians who imagined the new world and the role of visual art and new media in its transformation. What kind of social conditions made the new aesthetic choices relevant? Who is doing the depicting and what is and is not shown? What does it mean to visualize politics more broadly?