Posts Tagged ‘comprehensive exams’

Currently I’m in the process of reading for my comprehensive exams. Admittedly it is a little unusual for a two-year MA to have both a thesis and comps, but I am actually pretty excited to have the opportunity to do both; it’s good preparation for a PhD program and also just good academic practice in general. Today’s article is “From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle” by Kevin Deluca & Jennifer Peeples. This work expands on DeLuca’s book Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism by utilizing the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle as a site of analysis. DeLuca & Peeples state:

Image events are dense surfaces meant to provoke in an instant the shock of the familiar made strange. They suggest a Benjaminian sense of time, where any moment can open up on eternity, any moment can be the moment that changes everything, the moment that redeems the past and the future.

While I have not read Walter Benjamin (much to my chagrin), the ability to conceptualize of a moment in time, particularly a image-laden performative moment, as a potential site of intervention strikes me as a frame that ties into the ways in which activists articulate goals. My immediate thoughts on this quotation relate to the many times that I have seen activists engage in spectacle, and many times that those activists have been told they are being too confrontational or distracting. But those spectacles allow access to the corporate controlled public screen. The failing that activists risk, though, is engaging in spectacle without meaning; of demanding attention when there is no other substance to be seen.

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