Fifty years after the global wave of protest collectively remembered as “1968,” this seminar pairs targeted readings of primary and secondary literature with hands-on archival research to explore the historical moment in just one of its principal aspects: the deployment of art and architecture as means of resistance in many sites of social contestation. Grounded in Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s strong holdings in the politics of postwar avant-gardes and counterculture, primary research will focus on emergent links between art and protest in Europe and the United States, with individual sessions devoted to local manifestations of transnational movements in Paris, Berlin, New York, Berkeley, Rome, Florence, and New Haven. A concurrent program of lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions will broaden the scope of inquiry to a global context while at the same time providing occasion for a detailed consideration of local events that unfolded on Yale Campus and its vicinity. Research findings will be presented and discussed in a concluding, full-day symposium.

Key questions to be addressed over the course of the seminar include: the possibilities and limits of art and architecture as vehicles for social change; relations between “high” and “low” culture in ’68 and the contradictions inherent in the notion of an “avant-garde of the masses;” the role of violence, militancy (Black Panthers) and terrorism (RAF, Red Brigades, Weathermen); problems of geography and periodization and (where and when did the historic moment ‘1968’ start, when and when did it end?); questions of legacy and relevance; what can and does ‘1968’ mean for cultures of protest fifty years on?

Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscript Library’s holdings in the area of 1960s political and artistic counter culture will form the primary research material. Limited enrollment. Knowledge in at least one European language besides English desired.