The Art and soul of Social Change

Chandra C. Khan

"Truth, purity, self-control, firmness, fearlessness, humility, unity, peace, and renunciation—These are the inherent qualities of a civil resister."   Mahatma Gandhi .

Course Description
In this course students will explore the arts created for positive social change. We will study the works of artists that are addressing issues of the environment, civil rights, globalization, human rights, health care, and social justice among others. We will analyze how, the transformation of southern spirituals into freedom songs during the civil rights movement, the revolutionary murals of the Chicano movement, rock music and the struggles against famine and apartheid, ACT UP's use of visual art in the campaign against AIDS, and the literature of environmental justice, vividly demonstrates that cultural work has been a vital medium for imagining and acting for social change, and that social movements affect cultural and aesthetic practices. The focus will be on studying poetry, painting, music, murals, film, and fiction in and around social movements; and by considering the ways in which the cultural texts generated by resistance movements have reshaped the contours of specific cultures. The course aims to address some important questions like, how do artists address social issues? How can art serve as a force for creating public dialogue? Are there different aesthetics for art with a social or political message? And, can art transform lives? Through two research assignments students will address the above questions.

Goals and objectives:
The primary goal of this course is to explore and develop understandings of the ways in which art can facilitate positive change, public dialogue, and build community. Through active participation in course activities and assignments, students will be able to:
1. identify artists who are creating work in these arenas and describe the aesthetic, social, and cultural significance of their work
2. understand some of the issues related to public art
3. discuss the aesthetic implications and challenges of art that straddles the realms of the political, social, or cultural spheres
4. explore the changing role of the artist in society
5. collaborate with others to affect positive change
6. Students will also generally learn how nonviolent social movements have worked in countries around the world and to be able to use basic vocabulary, concepts and principles of conflict management and resolution in the practice of nonviolent action in  social movement.

Required Readings:
1. T.V. Reed, The Art of Protest (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2005)
2.  Zinn, Howard, Artists in Times of War (2003)
3.  John Paul Lederach, the Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace
4.  The Power of Non Violence: e- books
Suggested Readings
  1. Zunes Stephen, Kurtz and Asher,  Nonviolent  Social Movements, 1999 Blackwell
  2. Zinn Howard , The power of Non Violence, 2002 Beacon Press
  3. Bacon, Barbara S., Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force in Civic Dialogue (1998)
  4. Felshin, Nina, But Is It Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism (1995)
  5. Glaser, Milton, The Design of Dissent (2005)
  6. Grande, John, Art Nature Dialogues: Interviews with Environmental Artists (2004)
  7. Kester, Grant, Art, Activism, and Oppositionality (1998)
  8. Lacy, Suzanne, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (1995)
  Films and documentaries:
An Eye on the Prize,
Steps to Peace
: The Journey of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and
Widow's Plea by Bill Moyers, and Gandhi among others.