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Saturday, November 3 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
7.A. Personae Politics

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PANEL. Personae Politics

"Dark Novel Surrealisms/Anti-Fascisms: Exquisite Corpse"
Jeannette Baxter
Anglia Ruskin University

This paper will discuss aspects of a monograph-in-progress, Dark Novel Surrealisms: Exquisite Corpse, which seeks to bring a particular, and particularly neglected, form of British surrealist writing into view: the ‘dark’ surrealist anti-fascist novel. In so doing, this book initiates a much needed re-evaluation of the formal and conceptual diversity of British surrealist literary production within, and across, the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, whilst it opens up a new trajectory of enquiry into how, and with what implications, the surrealist novel has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the historiography of British anti-fascist literature. If this revisionist study is to make a serious case for the legitimacy and longevity of the British surrealist anti-fascist novel, however, it can only do so by uprooting British surrealist writing from the critically-imposed temporal, formal and intellectual categories that currently limit and define it. Such a move demands, in turn, a fundamental re-evaluation of the ways in which British surrealist anti-fascism exists in relation to that of its international counterparts, most notably, but not exclusively, those of the Paris-based surrealists. For too long, Anglo- American literary critics have tended to lock British and Paris-based literary surrealism into a historically-closed and mutually deleterious relationship that fails to account adequately for the complexity of the surrealist anti-fascist imagination, whilst failing to consider entirely the dynamic role that British novelists have played, and continue to play, in shaping and energizing it. Conceived conceptually and formally in response to this narrative of critical stasis, then, this book, which is an experiment in surrealist critical historiography, un/folds an alternative history of British surrealist and anti-fascist literature, one that calls for a radical reassessment of the nature and extent of the relationship between the surrealist, fascist and anti-fascist imaginations in the interwar and wartime periods, and beyond, as it makes room for a very different set of new – or novel – surrealisms to emerge.

"Books Without an Audience: The Samizdat Publications of the Czech Surrealist Group in the 1970s and 1980s "
Kristin Watterott
Humboldt-University Berlin

The Czech surrealist group Skupina surrealistů v ČSR was founded in 1934 and continues to exist today; it’s one of very few artist collectives that has remained active long after its initial formation. In former Czechoslovakia, during the 1970s and 1980s, the Surrealist Group was displaced from the public cultural sphere by the authoritarian cultural policy of the Communist regime. From this point onwards, meetings and artistic exchanges were held in private. The group focused primarily on independently produced, privately circulated documents, so-called “Samizdat” publications. In 20 years of public isolation, the community produced five Samizdat volumes in form of exhibition catalogues, anthologies and the magazine Gambra. The issues focused on various themes such as dreams, humor, and poetry, and presented individual and collective surrealist actions with pictures, quotations, and written descriptions. The editions can be read simultaneously as media of documentation that reconstruct surrealist practice and, at the same time, as artists’ books, the content of which exhibited its own specific artistic forms and theories of art. In this paper, I explore the unacknowledged dual-function of the ‘70s and ‘80s Czech surrealist Samizdat as both an archival technique and a work of art. I investigate the function of these volumes for group artistic praxis and how it reflects creative production under the social conditions of the time.

Speakers
JB

Jeannette Baxter

Anglia Ruskin University
KW

Kristin Watterott

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Chairs
PR

Penelope Rosemont

Independent Artist


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)