Critical Studies News

Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013 by Jim Norrena

Events are part of the Graduate Studies Symposium

What does narrative mean to architects, artists, critics, designers, scholars, and writers? How can the unfolding of a story communicate, evoke, engage, and captivate audiences?

This exhibition and lecture/performance series explores narrative in a broad range of genres.

Narrative (Inter)actions is a series of performances, lectures, and exhibition that comprise the spring Graduate Studies Symposium at California College of the Arts.

Please join us for these exciting events:

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Contra Mundum Press, 2012
Paperback, 344 pages, $18

Composed over 2,500 years, then lost in the deserts of Iraq for 2,000 more, Gilgamesh presents a palimpsest of ancient Middle Eastern cultic and courtly lyrics and lore. It is the story of a visionary journey beyond the limits of human experience. The legends it collects ultimately informed Greek and Egyptian myths, Hebrew Scriptures, and Islamic literature. Scholarly translations of Gilgamesh often dilute the expressive force of the material through overzealous erudition. Popular versions of the poem frequently gloss over gaps in the text with accessible and comforting, but ultimately falsely ecumenical language. In this new version, Stuart Kendall (Critical Studies chair) animates the latest scholarship with a contemporary poetic sensibility, inspired by the pagan worldview of the ancient work. Transcriptions of all of the available tablets and tales have been harnessed to present a fluid and holistic text, true to the archaic mind.

Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 by Chris Bliss

New Provost Melanie Corn

Melanie Corn has been appointed provost of California College of the Arts (CCA), it was announced today by President Stephen Beal. Currently CCA’s associate provost, she will assume the position in May 2012. As provost Corn will be CCA's chief academic officer with broad responsibilities for the strategic planning, development, and administration of the college's academic programs.

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

10,000 Wallpapers
Brooklyn Arts Press, 2011
Paperback, 40 pages, $8

This is a new chapbook of poems by Matt Shears, a faculty member in Writing and Literature, Writing, and Critical Studies. Cathy Park Hong, author of Dance Dance Revolution, says, "This long lyric is full of brute terror and bucolic beauty, exploring individual consciousness unmoored by our present 'thundering interconnectivity'; 10,000 Wallpapers chronicles 'the everyman meandering through this digitized countryside,' questioning how we can truly inhabit the world when reality has become denatured by the image. The speaker in this poem sings like Prufrock, in a lyric that is searing and true, as he searches for the possibilities of pure utterance and perception amidst what is manufactured."

Posted on Monday, July 25, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Guilty: Le Coupable
State University of New York Press, 2011
Hardcover/paperback, 254 pages, $85/$29.95

Written by Georges Bataille and translated for the first time into English by Critical Studies faculty Stuart Kendall, Guilty: Le Coupable is a personal record of spiritual and communal crisis, wherein the death of god announces the beginning of friendship. To many Western critics, Bataille is one of the most arresting and influential writers of this century. The text is presented as series of reflections and meditations. Tellingly begun in September 1939, the author's philosophical inquiries are heightened by the war and its introduction of profound uncertainty: "I started this book as the result of an upheaval that ended up challenging everything and freed me from undertakings I was stuck in."

Posted on Monday, July 25, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Terrence Malick: Film and Philosophy
Continuum, 2011
Hardcover, 240 pages, $130

Terrence Malick's four feature films have been celebrated by critics and adored as instant classics among film aficionados, but the body of critical literature devoted to them has remained surprisingly small in comparison to Malick's stature in the world of contemporary film. Critical Studies faculty Stuart Kendall edits this volume in which Malick's films are discussed as individual objects, as a corpus, within contemporary film studies, and within a wider cultural discussion. Each of the essays is grounded in film studies, philosophical inquiry, and the emerging field of scholarship that combines the two disciplines.

Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

The Ends of Art and Design
Infra-Thin Press, 2011
Paperback, 108 pages, $14.75

The design arts are to our age of experience what the fine arts were to the era of representation, but with crucial differences. Whereas the fine arts offered critical-reflective experiences to independent subjects within the era of representation, the design fields now produce experience-events in a post-subjective world. Stuart Kendall (Visual Studies faculty) proposes a new way to think about the relationship between design and culture as well as new roles for design education within the Humanities, and for the Humanities within design education. If the design fields are the primary agents of contemporary culture, they should be the primary focus of contemporary cultural studies.

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Gender and Activism in a Little Magazine
Ashgate, 2011
Hardcover, 194 pages, $104.95

Interweaving nuanced discussions of politics, visuality, and gender, Director of Humanities and Sciences Rachel Schreiber uncovers the complex ways that gender figures into the graphic satire created by artists for the New York-based socialist journal, the Masses. This exceptional magazine was published between 1911 and 1917, during an unusually radical decade in American history and featured cartoons drawn by artists of the Ashcan School and others, addressing questions of politics, gender, labor, and class. Rather than viewing art from the Masses primarily in terms of its critical social stances or aesthetic choices, however, this study uses these images to open up new ways of understanding the complexity of early-20th-century viewpoints.

Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Where a road had been
BlazeVOX, 2010
Paperback, 68 pages, $16

This is the first book by Writing and Literature faculty member Matt Shears. Cal Bedient says: "Matt Shears enters American poetry already far to the fore, just perceptible at the limit of a strenuous, refined thinking about the dirt and destructions of new beginnings.

At once super-sophisticated and an American original, Shears comes out of Gertrude Stein via the great late-20th century French thought about the constant coverings-up of language ('they were always covering up. / what they were saying, and so baroque'), and about the torsions and wipings-away, the fear and the featherings, in any attempt to arrive at (to be) the new, there 'where dis-covery [is] becoming. / in a fledgling sky, with a destructible wing.' Once or twice he tantalizes the reader with the possibility that the new might actually be, despite history, a pure 'yes / hosanna / hello'; but in the main, he's a tough-minded realist."