Marx, Form, Isms

In our workshop we aim to continue the work of the Retro-Formalism working group on literary theory this time with a specific focus on political debates. The group has developed an approach to contemporary and modernist thought that starts from an asynchronous point of view. We presume avant-gardist art and revolutionary events changed the course of history in a way that opened not only to a different future but also to new interpretations of the past. One of the tasks of the Retro-Formalist group is to explore the possibilities of a different practice today guided by a concept of expanded contemporaneity that includes inquiries into future, present and past.

Rather than reconstructing the historical debate of the 1920s between Marxist and Formalist thinkers on how political action and experimental literature might be intermingled we would like to open up the text archive of formalist and Marxist thought for today and future purposes in search of an unpredictable past.

Marxism in Culture provides a platform for presentation and debate of contemporary approaches to Marxist thought in culture. In cooperation with the Marxism in Culture Seminar and with the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture we aim to explore historical valences of Formalist theory in relation to Marxist thought. Beginning with the 1920s debates in the Soviet Union, through the recovery of Formalist theory in Europe through Structuralism in 1960s and 1970s, and renewed interest in cultural critique post-1968 and in the New Left, to the contemporary revivals of discussion of form and value-form in Culture and Marxism.



Thursday June 4th (University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, Boardroom)

5:30 pm Keynote
John Roberts (University of Wolverhampton) Shklovsky, Error and the End of Saint Petersburg

Friday June 5th

Morning (University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, Room 401)

10-11am Close Readings of Osip Brik’s, The So-Called Formalist Method (1923)
Presented by Anke Hennig, David Cunningham, Anthony Iles

11:15-12:15 Panel Updating the Marxism-Formalism Debate
Chaired by David Cunningham (Central Saint Martins, UAL London)

Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary, London) Formalism and Soviet Power: A Necessary Reconsideration

Anke Hennig (Central Saint Martins, UAL London) Trotsky on Strindberg

12:15-1:15pm Lunch

1:15-1:45pm Panel Marxism and Formalism Today
Chaired by Anke Hennig (University of Westminster, London)

Helen Palmer (Goldsmiths College, London) Queering Defamiliarization: Marxism, Manifestos and Matter

2-3:30pm Film Screening Chaired by Anthony Iles (Middlesex University, London)

Duncan Campbell It for Others (54mins)

Evening roundtable at the Marxism in Culture Seminar (Senate House, Torrington room)
Chaired by Larne Abse Gogarty & Gail Day

5:30 pm Re-enactment of the Marxist-Formalist Debate
Participants: David Cunningham, Anke Hennig, Anthony Iles, Marina Vishmidt


themen: Workshop