A “Blueprint” Summary of Martin Puchner’s Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes

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.

[1] To create this one page blueprint, I used an iPad app by Time Base Technology Limited called GoodNotes, which is a very simple, yet powerful, handwriting and annotation app.

2 Comments A “Blueprint” Summary of Martin Puchner’s Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes

  1. Mo

    Hi! I’m also a PhD in English, and I found this diagram is really inspiring! I’m considering taking notes in this way. I remember ideas much better after seeing them in handwriting–something about letters which change with each appearance really helps me! Could you tell me what know what stylus you’re using here? Are there any that you’d particularly recommend? Thanks!

    1. Ben Lee Taylor

      Hi Mo,

      I’m glad you liked the diagram. It really helped me distill the most important parts of the book into a class presentation I had to give.

      I have two styluses (or styli, I guess): the Alupen by Just Mobile (I don’t think the company sells this product directly anymore) and the Cosmonaut by Studio Neat. I’m not sure which one I used for this particular project, but I can tell you what I like and dislike about both of them.

      The Alupen is much lighter and thinner than the Cosmonaut, and it has six edges like a typical wood pencil. Its surface is matte metal, and it’s a little smooth, so sometimes it can slip down between your fingers. The tip is also somewhat too rounded (not sure exactly how to describe the shape), which makes it little less accurate than I would like. In other words, the tip doesn’t come to enough of a tip, if that makes sense. It’s also a soft, hollow rubber tip, which means that it squishes down if you press too hard. While some people like this, I’d rather feel the solid feedback of the surface I’m writing on.

      The Cosmonaut, on the other hand, is pretty heavy and feels substantial in comparison to the Alupen. According to Studio Neat’s website, it has a solid aluminum core, but the entire surface is coated with rubber. The surface is smooth all around, much like a crayon or whiteboard marker. The rubber coating is great for grip and the stylus tip is much more pointed, which, in my experience makes it more accurate. The cone-shaped tip is also aluminum coated with rubber, so when you’re writing with it, you can feel the hardness of the aluminum against the glass. While this makes writing feel more natural, I could also see some accidents happening as a result of tapping the glass too hard. For me, the only real downside to the Cosmonaut is that the rubber exterior likes to attract dust, fuzz, and other particles if you put it in a bag or pouch.

      Adonit apparently makes some of the best styluses for smartphones and tablets, but I haven’t yet forked out the cash to give one a try.

      Hope you find something that works for you, and thanks for visiting the site!


Leave a Reply