“What do I want history to do to me?,” asks Zadie Smith. “I might want history to reduce my historical antagonist—and increase me. I might ask it to urgently remind me why I’m moving forward, away from history. Or speak to me always of our intimate relation, of the ties that bind—and indelibly link—my history and me.” As monuments across the world are fell in response to the legacies (and ongoing practices) of colonialism, racism, imperialism, and oppressions nameless, what should rise in their stead? What should we remember? Who should we remember? How should we remember? What do we want history to do to us?
Art, Design, and the Public Domain Proseminar will investigate, generally, our role as artists and designers in the struggle for liberation and, specifically, the status of the monument today. Together we will consider the work of scholars, historians, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists, critics, and intellectuals who themselves have engaged with these questions. We will encounter ideas on freedom, trauma, justice, oppression, community, democracy, otherness, and memory from aesthetic, critical, critical race, poststructuralist, political, psychoanalytic, and queer and feminist theory. We will examine how artists and designers have given these ideas form. And by semester’s end, we will test these ideas in projects of our own.