Arts & Culture Under The Authoritarian Condition

Holger Schulze
Arts & Culture Under The Authoritarian Condition

(Course Code: HMKK0323KU)


Every Wednesday


Authoritarian movements, their boasting leaders, and their craftily promoted blogs, rallies and parties seem to take on one presumably democratic country, after another, one shit storm at a time. With claims and language, buzzwords and a joyfully sadistic change to a tone of destruction, more and more people are joining an intriguing beat that has only one end: The exclusion of select groups of people through ridiculing, scapegoating, and even outright violent abuse and the promotion of a kleptocratic and nepotistic execution of power, a situation falsely assumed to be vanishing under recurrent efforts of democratization and liberation.

Usually, the initiators of these movements present themselves as agents of the one true opposition and resistance: a quite well-known, common denominator to historical, authoritarian movements. Recent publications – as by Douglas Kellner or Georg Seeßlen, and earlier by Mario Perniola – tend to interpret these movements as variations of an authoritarian governing style accelerated by contemporary and highly populist means of digital production and networked dissemination.

This course investigates this contemporary political and social development regarding its effects on the arts and culture – and all the new artifacts, the new genres, the new cultural practices of resistance and governance triggered by this development. We will discuss several areas of cultural production and their transformations in the course of such a rather unsuspected change. Our starting point will be sound and music culture – but all aspects of visual culture, of publishing, of the performance arts, of design, of research and of journalism will be in our focus. Topics might include e.g.:

Authoritarianism – Neofascism – Accelerated Neoliberalism – Thanaticism: What’s Going On?

Popular Music: Singing The Resistance?

Television & The Movie Industry: A Disturbed Elite or Fanning The Flames of Resistance?

Clubculture: LGBTQ+Cultures Under Pressure?

Journalism: Fake News, Factchecking or Agitprop?

Theater, Musical, Performance Arts: Defunding, Nationalizing, Cleansing?

The Authoritarian Condition:Where did we lose the grip on the freedom of research and the liberal arts?

As these new cultural phenomena are still in development this course qualifies indeed as a continous research workshop on current affairs: Our collective and ongoing research activity will represent a major core of this course.

Basic references

Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford (1950), The Authoritarian Personality, New York: Harper & Brothers.

Micha Brumlik (2017), »Vom Proletariat zum Pöbel: Das neue reaktionäre Subjekt« In: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 62 (2017), No. 1, p. 56-62.

Judith Butler (2016), »A Statement« In: e-flux November 9, 2016 (online: http:/​/​​t/​a-statement-from-judith-butler/​5215

Romand Coles & Lia Haro (2017), »Understanding Neo-Fascism (Part 1) Trump-shock and Resonant Violence Five theses for Comprehending Trumpian Fascism« In: Public Seminar – February 17, 2017 (online: http:/​/​​2017/​02/​understanding-neo-fascism-part-1/​ )

Malcolm Gillies (2015), »Can free thinking continue amid authoritarian culture?« In: Times Higher Education 45 (2015), July 2, 2015 (online: https:/​/​​features/​can-free-thinking-continue-amid-authoritarian-culture )

Gwynn Guilford & Nikhil Sonnad (2017), »What Steve Bannon really wants« In: Quartz – February 3, 2017 (online: https:/​/​​898134/​what-steve-bannon-really-wants/​ )

Douglas Kellner (2016), American Nightmare: Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Björn Milbradt (2013), Stereotypie–Syndrom–Autoritarismus. Eine sprachtheoretische Untersuchung zum Stereotypiebegriff, PhD Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Mario Perniola (2004), Contro la comunicazione, Torino: Einaudi (translated into German 2005: Wider die Kommunikation, Merve Verlag Berlin)

Holger Schulze (2017), »Singing The Resistance. A Compendium of January 2017’s Many Anti-Trump Music Videos« In: Sounding Out! January 30, 2017 (online: https:/​/​​2017/​01/​30/​singing-the-resistance-a-compendium-of-january-2017s-many-anti-trump-music-videos/​ )

Georg Seeßlen (2017), TRUMP! Populismus als Politik, Bertz + Fischer Verlag Berlin.

McKenzie Wark (2014), »The Birth of Thanaticism« In: Public Seminar – April 3, 2014 (online: http:/​/​​2014/​04/​birth-of-thanaticism/​ )