ACLA Seminar- 50 Years After the Season of Politics: Literature, Art, and Media of 1968

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA/Julia Alekseyeva and Erin Shevaugn Schlumpf
contact email: 

1968 is now considered a global event, traversing national boundaries. As James Tweedie contends, these movements were not isolated events but “a series of interlaced moments,” posing an “alternative vision of global modernity” based on a critique of dominant infrastructures. In regions as disparate as West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Japan, Poland, the US, and France, among others, student and labor movements grew in unprecedented power. In the US, the Vietnam War drew mass protests, the Black Panthers organized against white supremacy, and the “Yippies” sought to disrupt the status quo. Meanwhile, in France, students occupied the Sorbonne and barricaded the streets during the infamous Mai ’68. Halfway around the world in Japan, students joined with laborers to protest the creation of the Narita airport, and continued—sometimes violently—to protest ANPO, the US-Japan Security Treaty. However, these events were highly mediated moments: for the first time in history, with the use of television, mass political events were broadcast in real-time. Protesters grew adept at recognizing their visual appeal: which color helmets would appear most striking on camera, or which pose would produce cause the most sympathetic response in viewers. And of course, 1968 was a year in which art, literature, music, and film flourished, with many artists enfolding themselves into the surrounding political events.

This panel seeks to reflect on the global artistic and philosophical movements interwoven between the mass protests of 1968. As Kristin Ross notes, compared with other events, “historians have abdicated their responsibilities and left this event, even more than others, open to a higher degree of instrumentalization.” As a result, serious academic inquiries into the culture, media, and political happenings of this fraught period in history are still called for. This panel addresses this need for additional scholarship in hopes of bringing global histories of 1968 into conversation. On the eve of its 50 year anniversary, this panel investigates the legacy of both the art and politics of these movements, and considers their relevance in our own increasingly politicized era.

Possible topics of consideration include, but are not limited to, posters and other printed matter of 1968; graffiti and various forms of street-writing; transnational 1968 movements; the relationship between Mai ’68 and Maoist China; Latin American film and media; the folk music revival; comparisons between 1968 and current protest movements; the role of television within the Civil Rights movement and others; the role of experimental and avant-garde art, film, poetry, or literature within political events; the influence and blossoming of radical theory; the narrowing gulf between experimental theatre and daily life, etc. Papers on all geographic areas and media are welcome.


Please apply through the ACLA website, and feel free to email if you have a question about this panel.