English 134

Contemporary Literature: You Are Not an Individual: Contemporary Art and Collectivity

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
1 Summer 2021 D'Silva, Eliot
MW 2-5 C

Other Readings and Media


Readings will include work by Ed Atkins, Hannah Black, Sharon Hayes, Jenny Holzer, Fred Moten, Claudia Rankine, Cally Spooner and The Infinite Venom Girl Gang. 




One of the key aspects of capitalist culture is its systematic regulation of the emergence of collectivity at any level: from socially active neighborhoods to national political campaigns. We are forced into thinking that we cannot engage in any collective action that isn’t ultimately less fun than sitting at home on our phones. But at the same time, capitalism has to make us fantastically creative and connective (in our workplaces and our online networks), relying on the activities of millions of people to generate profits, products, services and feelings. This course asks what kinds of meaningful collective and communal practice might be possible under these conditions. What is collectivity? Is it an experience, a mode of being, a form of sociability?  How might it inform aesthetic projects as well as political struggles? How do works of literature articulate, cultivate and crystallize relations of collectivity among their readers? To explore these questions, we’ll read a few important literary works from the past two decades, considering how these texts derive their potency from the capacity to enable experiences of collectivity and imagine new futures for public space.


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