Reflections on Surrealism & Revolution

Throughout this course, I’ve gained an appreciation for and an awareness of the importance of the collective in artistic action. Mixed in with these observations, however, is the realization that academic communities are in a constant state of flux. Each year new friendships are strengthened, and then in the spring with graduation or fellowships, those friendships become long-distance connections. Year by year the community changes. I think, then, it becomes important to form friendships with incoming students and to branch out beyond the university to become part of non-academic communities.

I’ve also realized the importance of training in both art and activism. Effective activism appears simple in its execution, but that is because it has been discussed and planned in detail. I want to continue to consider how I might contribute to story-based activism, so this summer I will read the Center for Story-based Strategy’s book Re:Imagining Change – How to us story-based strategy to win campaigns, build movements, and change the world and will watch the Center for Artistic Activism’s webinars. My plan is to follow the threads from this class to find additional artistic activist communities, develop a plan for attending trainings or bringing training groups to Milwaukee, and forge a new path for my activism.

As a writing teacher, I’m interested in embodiment and materiality and how these methods of composing can enhance a student’s engagement with their topic. In looking back through my notebook for the class, I found my notes while watching the documentary Ah! The Hopeful Pagentry of Bread & Puppet, and remembered the role of making and eating bread in their performances. The physical act of chewing and the mental act of considering the plays, chewing them, figuring out a meaning for yourself, were intertwined. I want to bring embodiment into my writing classroom in meaningful ways, and give my students ways to physically stay with ideas for longer periods of time.

I also hope to develop ways to bring the writings and theories of the Situationist International, Flux, and Oulipo movements into my writing classrooms and to discuss how and why we occupy certain spaces. My proposal “The Situation: Embodiment, Visual Literature, and Agency in the Creative Writing Classroom” was recently accepted for the Creative Writing Studies Organization 2017 conference in November, and I look forward to discussing the role of artistic activism in pedagogy with other creative writing teachers.

In my own creative work, I have been exploring visual and aural elements in hybrid texts. Learning about fluxus artists has opened up an exciting avenue to learn about past and present work in this field. At the end of this class, I feel hopeful that art can enact political change and a responsibility to use my artistic capabilities in collaboration with activist communities.

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