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Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry, and Politics in California

A landmark study of California's visual arts and poetry, 1925 to 1975, Utopia and Dissent demonstrates the profound influence this regional culture had on American art and thought. Combining intellectual and cultural history, it traces the spread of ideas developed in California's pre-World War II bohemian enclaves to mainstream America, where they became a major current of 1950s and 1960s counterculturism.

The provincial nature of California's prewar arts institutions, Richard Cándida Smith shows, fostered an aesthetics stressing personal expression and the exploration of life's mysteries through creativity. These ideas found expression in the beat generation's soul-searching and informed a decade-long debate about conformity. When America exploded with sociopolitical protest in the 1960s, California quickly became a countercultural focal point for a nation redefining itself. People unfamiliar with the California avant-garde's actual works readily absorbed their ideas as they crossed the line into popular culture.

Cándida Smith introduces the major figures in California's visual arts and poetry movements: postsurrealists Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson; writers Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Wallace Berman; Vietnam War-era poets Gary Snyder and Denise Levertov. Unequalled in scope or depth of scholarship, this book will inform discussions of twentieth-century American arts, literature, and history for many years.

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Mallarmé's Children: Symbolism and the Renewal of Experience

In a narrative gracefully combining intellectual and cultural history, Richard Cándida Smith unfolds the legacy of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), the poet who fathered the symbolist movement in poetry and art. The symbolists found themselves in the midst of the transition to a world in which new media devoured cultural products and delivered them to an ever-growing public. Their goal was to create and oversee a new elite culture, one that elevated poetry by removing it from a direct relationship to experience. Instead, symbolist poetry was dedicated to exploring discourse itself, and its practitioners to understanding how language shapes consciousness.

Cándida Smith investigates the intellectual context in which symbolists came to view artistic practice as a form of knowledge. He relates their work to psychology, especially the ideas of William James, and to language and the emergence of semantics. Through the lens of symbolism, he focuses on a variety of subjects: sexual liberation and the erotic, anarchism, utopianism, labor, and women's creative role. Paradoxically, the symbolists' reconfiguration of elite culture fit effectively into the modern commercial media. After Mallarmé was rescued from obscurity, symbolism became a valuable commodity, exported by France to America and elsewhere in the market-driven turn-of-the-century world. Mallarmé's Children traces not only how poets regarded their poetry and artists their art but also how the public learned to think in new ways about cultural work and to behave differently as a result.

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The Modern Moves West: California Artists and Democratic Culture in the Twentieth Century

In 1921 Sam Rodia, an Italian laborer and tile setter, started work on an elaborate assemblage in the backyard of his home in Watts, California. The result was an iconic structure now known as the Watts Towers. Rodia created a work that was original, even though the resources available to support his project were virtually nonexistent. Each of his limitations—whether of materials, real estate, finances, or his own education—passed through his creative imagination to become a positive element in his work. In The Modern Moves West, accomplished cultural historian Richard Cándida Smith contends that the Watts Towers provided a model to succeeding California artists that was no longer defined through a subordinate relationship to the artistic capitals of New York and Paris.

Tracing the development of abstract painting, assemblage art, and efforts to build new arts institutions, Cándida Smith lays bare the tensions between the democratic and professional sides of modern and contemporary art as California developed a distinct regional cultural life. Men and women from groups long alienated—if not forcibly excluded—from the worlds of "high culture" made their way in, staking out their participation with images and objects that responded to particular circumstances as well as dilemmas of contemporary life, in the process changing the public for whom art was made. Beginning with the emergence of modern art in nineteenth-century France and its influence on young Westerners and continuing through to today's burgeoning border art movement along the U.S.-Mexican frontier, The Modern Moves West dramatically illustrates the paths that California artists took toward a more diverse and inclusive culture.

Improvised Continent:
Pan-Americanism and Cultural Exchange

How does a country in the process of becoming a world power prepare its citizens for the responsibilities of global leadership? In Improvised Continent, Richard Cándida Smith answers this question by illuminating the forgotten story of how, over the course of the twentieth century, cultural exchange programs, some run by the government and others by philanthropies and major cultural institutions, brought many of the most important artists and writers of Latin America to live and work in the United States.

Improvised Continent is the first book to focus on cultural exchange inside the United States and how Americans responded to Latin American writers and artists. Moving masterfully between the history of ideas, biography, institutional history and politics, and international relations, and engaging works in French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, Cándida Smith synthesizes over seventy years of Pan-American cultural activity in the United States.

The stories behind Diego Rivera's murals, the movies of Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, the photography of Genevieve Naylor, and the novels of Carlos Fuentes—these works and artists, along with many others, challenged U.S. citizens about their place in the world and about the kind of global relations the country's interests could allow. Improvised Continent provides a profoundly compassionate portrayal of the Latin American artists and writers who believed their practices might create a more humane world.

Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection (hardcover ed., Routledge)

Text and Image: Art and the Performance of Memory (paperback ed., Transition)

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Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection (hardcover ed., Routledge)

Text and Image: Art and the Performance of Memory (paperback ed., Transition)

This book investigates the role that the visual and performing arts play in our experience and understanding of the past. Expanding upon longstanding concerns in cultural history about the relation of text and image, the book highlights the distinction between enactive and cognitive memory and the implications of this for artists and their publics.

Expanding upon longstanding concerns in cultural history about the relation of text and image, this book explores how ideas move across and between expressive forms. The contributions draw from art and architectural history, film, theater, performance studies, and social and cultural history to identify and dissect the role that the visual and performing arts can play in the experience and understanding of the past.

The essays highlight the role of oral history in the documentation of the visual and performing arts. They share a common set of questions as they explore, firmly grounded in their distinctive disciplinary standpoints, the circuit of word, gesture, object in the formation and reproduction of knowledge, identity, and community. Blending theory and case study, they cover subjects such as the response of artists to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; violence in Columbia and Mexico and the Balkan Wars; the circuit of sexual desire in contemporary art and photography; and sites of collective and personal memory, including the Internet, the urban landscape, family photographs, and hip hop.

Stressing the relationship of media to the formation of collective memory, the volume explores how media intertextuality creates overlapping repertoires for understanding the past and the present. Scholars of art history, media and cultural studies, literature, and performance studies will all find this work a valuable resource.

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National Protection for National Citizenship (1878)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Feminist as Thinker
A Reader in Documents and Essays

More than one hundred years after her death, Elizabeth Cady Stanton still stands—along with her close friend Susan B. Anthony—as the major icon of the struggle for women’s suffrage. In spite of this celebrity, Stanton’s intellectual contributions have been largely overshadowed by the focus on her political activities, and she is yet to be recognized as one of the major thinkers of the nineteenth century.

Here, at long last, is a single volume exploring and presenting Stanton’s thoughtful, original, lifelong inquiries into the nature, origins, range, and solutions of women’s subordination. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker reintroduces, contextualizes, and critiques Stanton’s numerous contributions to modern thought. It juxtaposes a selection of Stanton’s own writings, many of them previously unavailable, with eight original essays by prominent historians and social theorists interrogating Stanton’s views on such pressing social issues as religion, marriage, race, the self and community, and her place among leading nineteenth century feminist thinkers. Taken together, these essays and documents reveal the different facets, enduring insights, and fascinating contradictions of the work of one of the great thinkers of the feminist tradition.

Contributors: Barbara Caine, Richard Cándida Smith, Ellen Carol DuBois, Ann D. Gordon, Vivian Gornick, Kathi Kern, Michele Mitchell, and Christine Stansell.

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Circuitos de Subjectividade:
História Oral, o Acervo e as Artes
(Circuits of Subjectivity:
Oral History, the Archive, and the Arts)

Os “circuitos de subjetividade”, que articulam concepções de identidade e comunidade, conectam as fontes orais a outros tipos de fontes – incluindo-se aquelas que expressam ideias e sentimentos que as pessoas não conseguem manifestar em palavras.

A natureza inescapavelmente dialógica das fontes orais e a necessidade de interpretação dessas fontes é a pedra angular de Circuitos de subjetividade: História oral, o acervo e as artes. Com elegância e originalidade, Richard Cándida Smith apresenta ao leitor brasileiro os resultados de mais de duas décadas de pesquisas com fontes orais que vão muito além da história oral, e passam pela linguística, pela estética e pela história da arte.

Diretor do Regional Oral History Office, da University of California, Berkeley, o historiador propõe uma sólida reflexão sobre a interpretação das fontes orais como elemento inerente à criação, à publicação e à recepção de entrevistas de história oral. 



1. Estratégias analíticas para entrevistas de história oral

2. Publicando história oral: Trocas orais e cultura impressa

3. Circuitos de subjetividade: História oral e o objeto de arte

4. História oral e arte moderna: Lembrando uma revolução

5. Cadáver esquisito: O sentido do passado nas histórias orais de artistas da Califórnia

6. As trilhas de uma mulher rumo à maturidade: Joan Brown, Jay DeFeo e os Rat Bastards

7. The light foot hears you and the brightness begins: Em busca da mortalidade nas últimas obras de Jay DeFeo

8. O valor dos objetos: A discussão de “qualidade” em entrevistas com historiadores da arte e curadores

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