Public Thought, Public Art, Public Effect

ISHA 2008-2009 

The relation of the worlds of thought and art to the public sphere is a matter of perennial contemplation, and it is time to consider it again. We live in an era of intense challenge, political, economic, cultural, ecological, yet it is not clear how those in the worlds of scholarship, writing, or art should respond. Scholars, writers, and artists in various times and places have done so in various ways. Some have gone to the barricades; some have taken on the mantle of public pronouncement (Zola, J'Accuse); some have felt that public involvement would betray the intrinsic commitment of their work; some have felt their truest contribution must be through the very forms of their thought or art. As Gabriel García Márquez put it, "The writer’s duty—his revolutionary duty, if you like—is to write well." Currently in the USA we confront a dizzying array of tendencies. This has been an era of documentary, taking on highly important issues. Questions of public space and public memory have come to the fore in relation to issues of design and artistic practice. Universities have in some ways opened their doors, working with local communities, or sending students to work with communities farther afield. Yet it has also been a period of retreat, of anti-intellectualism more generally, where finding a public voice is by no means easy. What examples can we find? What forms of inspiration? Or caution? What principles should guide us? 

It is with some of these questions in mind that ISHA has designed a year-long seminar around the theme of Public Thought, Public Art, Public Effect. Our fellows for the year are as follows.


Milan Dragicevich 
Department of Theater
“Tyrants and Avenging Angels: Milosevic and the West in the Theatrical Arena.” 

Sally Galman 
Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies
“Public Intellectuals in the Landscape of "Care": Pre K-12 Teachers, Identity, and Work.”

Daniel Gordon
Department of History
“The Headscarf: A Comparative View of Law and Public Culture.”

Elizabeth Krause
Department of Anthropology
“A Manifesto for Voice”

Joseph Krupczynski 
Department of Art, Architecture, and Art History
“Engaged Spatial Practices in the Public Realm”

Young Min Moon 
Department of Art, Architecture and Art History
“Public Moments: Recent Dialogic Practices from South Korea”

Sabina Murray
Department of English
Rendered Contemporary: The Art of Adapting Fiction to Film. 

Shawn Shimpach
Department of Communication

Frank Sleegers
Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
Temporary Public Art - A Strategy to Rebuild Shrinking Urban Communities. 

Jenny Spencer
Department of English
Politics and Live Performance in Contemporary British Theatre. 

Leah Wing
Department of Legal Studies
Murals in the North of Ireland/Northern Ireland. 

James Young
Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department
Memory at Ground Zero