Radical America: Revolutionary, Dissident and Extremist Magazines, 20th May, The Keep, University of Sussex
The Radical America symposium was attended by over 50 delegates and guests and successfully launched the University of Sussex’s special collection of the New Masses magazine as well as gathering together scholars and general public interested in radical or dissident magazines in the US. Attendees came from around the UK as well as from Ireland and the US.
The day began with an introduction to the Radical America collections at The Keep, including the New Masses archive and ongoing digitization of that collection, as well as a presentation of the Harvey Matusow papers held at Sussex.
The first panel titled ‘Sexual Dissidence’ covered the sexual politics of the radical Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Oracle; painting and the revolutionary art of The Masses as well as transatlantic feminist periodical networks of the Women’s Liberation Movement. The second panel examined ‘Spaces of Segregation and Incarceration’ in magazine culture, including the marginalization of Black World staff in the physical work environment of 1970s Johnson Publishing Company; white racial rhetoric in The Citizen Magazine 1961-79, and American women’s prison zines as sites of art and protest.
Over lunch, delegates were invited to view the Keep’s collection of radical magazines and the newly conserved issues of the New Masses as well as to attend a demonstration of the digital version of the magazine under development.
After lunch, panel three examined ‘Writers, Artists and Intellectuals as Editors’ with papers presented on Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar magazine; Orestes Brownson and The Boston Quarterly Review (1838-42) and Pamela Colman Smith’s The Green Sheaf. The final panel for the day focused on ‘visual radicalism and the avant-guard’ with papers on the influence of French visual culture on American periodicals; the influence of modernism and surrealism in Radical America and the radicalism of underground comix.
A wine reception was then followed by a lively and captivating personal recollection of the ‘The rise and fall of the Chicago Seed and the American underground press in the sixties and seventies’ from former underground magazine editor (and most able raconteur) Abe Peck. Abe Peck’s review essay on the literature of the Underground Press is published here: http://logosjournal.com/2013/peck/
There was great enthusiasm for the event and it was notable that no one failed to attend and more people came than were registered. Discussions were lively and engaged and there was much interest from outside of the UK from people who couldn’t attend. Interest in this second of the NAPS network events is also leading to two more themed NAPS events over 2016-17, potentially one on a theme of travel and periodicals (Nottingham Trent) and another on body, race and medicine in magazines (Liverpool/Wellcome).
The day was generously sponsored and supported by The School of English, (organization, catering and hosting costs); The Centre for Modernist Studies (Wine reception and student helpers/costs) and the Centre for American Studies at Sussex (speaker’s travel costs and hosting). Travel bursaries and postgraduate rates were subsidized by a small grant from the British Association for American Studies (http://baas.ac.uk). Thanks are also due to colleagues at Sussex who kindly gave their time, expertise and support to present or chair panels.
An online review of the day and an online exhibition is also under preparation. More on that soon……