Although I don’t plan on posting classwork very often, I thought that this was creative and useful enough to warrant a spot on the blog.
A couple weeks ago, I led a class discussion on the subject of “Manifesto Modernism.” More specifically, my assignment was to read Martin Puchner’s Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes and provide the class with a summary of the book’s most important arguments, while staying within the context of other reading we had been assigned for that day. To supplement my oral presentation, I was to provide a one page “blueprint” that would help my classmates follow along.
Featured below is this one page blueprint,1 which separates Puchner’s book into four sections and provides key information, citations, and questions relating to his arguments. In the center, I produced three key questions that I believe Puchner’s book answers, surrounded by terms that are crucial to the engagement of these questions throughout Puchner’s writing.
To briefly summarize the book, Puchner focuses on the interplay of politics and art in the genre of the manifesto, beginning with Marx and Engel’s The Communist Manifesto, working through early 20th century avant-garde movement manifestos, and at last leading up to more contemporary instances of the manifesto. The negotiation of the performative and the theatrical within the manifesto genre is crucial for Puchner, who argues that every manifesto exhibits these elements to different extents. Repetition and replacement also play a key role in the manifesto’s evolution, as it is continually adapted by groups with extremely differing political and artistic agendas.
I’d suggest reading the book if you have any interest in avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, such as Futurism, Dadaism, Vorticism, Surrealism, etc., and if you’re curious to know how the legacies of these movements continue to live on today.