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Postwar Culture Working Group

at Yale University

The Postwar Culture Working Group (PCWG) aims to create an interdisciplinary forum for discussing primary texts, films, performances, and exhibitions, as well as works currently in progress—dissertations, writing projects, book chapters, and so on—relating to culture, politics, and aesthetics roughly between 1945 and 1989.

The group is open to exploring all topics within this broadly construed field, but with a decided emphasis on the way in which they speak to each other and in so doing help to elucidate dynamics of interactions that gave rise to distinctly new cultural landscapes after the Second World War. Dialogue among artists, writers, social and cultural critics, activists; forms of experimentation, interventions, gestures, strategies, and tactics that tend to spill over from the field of literature and aesthetics into broader social and cultural movements, particularly those involving contestation and resistance, will provide an initial point of departure. 


Meeting on a regular basis since fall 2013 to discuss current projects and primary works, members will also be invited to attend and participate in events—readings, lectures, object sessions, film screenings, symposia, conferences, and so on—organized in association with various departments, the professional schools, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and other special collections repositories on campus. The Postwar Culture Working Group is thus conceived not only as a forum for interdisciplinary conversation but as a center for a community-in-formation as well as a sounding board on which such extraordinary events can achieve more sustained resonance at Yale. 

Postwar Culture Working Group Events Fall 2019

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Poetry in the Streets with Alain Arias-Misson

Friday, September 27, 1:30 p.m.

Beinecke Library

PCWG is back! The experimental poet Alain Arias-Misson kicks things off a new season of regular sessions after a three-year slumber that started with the renovation of Beinecke Library in 2016.


Join us on Beinecke Plaza for an outdoor session with Alain, who will coach us in the art of making a Public Poem, a participatory form of poetic intervention in the urban landscape he has been exploring for over fifty years.


Following the session, PCWG members and other invited guests will then follow the poet onto the streets of Yale and New Haven with 16 intrepid volunteers to stage  The Yale Public Poem

The Poem and its entourage will return to the Library for the opening reception of the exhibition, Beyond Words: Experimental Poetry and the Avant-Garde, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the Beinecke mezzanine.


Who are We? And Where Do We Go From Here?

(PCWG Business Meeting)

Date and Time TBD

Beinecke  Mezzanine

New faces, new interests, new agendas--PCWG has come back to life, but so much has changed in the past two and a half years. It's up to us to decide: Who are we, and where do we go from here?


Come meet the new members and help us define the Group's new identity and set the agenda for the rest of fall semester. If you haven't already signed up, click here to join and receive regular announcements about PCWG meetings and events.

Special Events

Special Events Spring 2018

68@50 Grand Finale: Monumental Art as Protest in 2018

Unveiling of the winning entry for "Lipstick, Revisited," a competition to reprise the artistic gesture of "Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks" (1969), Claes Oldenburg's unwanted gift to Yale

Followed by a happening & a night to remember 

Friday, May 4, 2018

6 p.m., Beinecke Plaza, 121 Wall St. 

Visiting Revolutionaries (3): Swords in the Hands of Children

Reflections on the Weather Underground - An evening with Weatherman Jonathan Lerner

Monday, April 30, 2018

6 p.m.

The Institute Library, 847 Chapel St., New Haven, CT 06510

Visiting Revolutionaries (2): '68 in New York City and London

Reflections on art and activism in Black Mask and King Mob

An evening with Ben Morea and Donald Nicholson-Smith 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

6 p.m. 

The Institute Library, 847 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

Yale/New Haven@68: Art, Architecture, and Activism 

A Roundtable with Architect Thomas Carey, Environmentalist Bill Duesing, and Graphic Designer Sheila Levrant de Brettville

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

6:30 p.m.

Smith Conference Room, Rudolph Hall 

"Italian Architectural Culture Around 1968"

Reflections by Architect Pier Vittorio Aureli (AA/Yale) and a Response by Marta Justo Caldeira (Columbia/Yale)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

6:30 p.m.

Smith Conference Room, Rudolph Hall

Naked Childhood / L'Enfance nue

A 1968 Film by Maurice Pialat

Monday, April 2, 2018

7 p.m.

Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium

The event is hosted by Dudley Andrew (Yale Film and Media Studies Program). It will be preceded by a short at 6.30 p.m.

A look into the French working class and foster care system in the late 1960s, Naked Childhood was Maurice Pialat's first feature-length film, which earned him the Prix Jean Vigo in 1969. 

Please join us for Part I of the Visiting Revolutionaries Series 

"From Yippie to Yuppie" - Pat Thomas on Jerry Rubin, 

founder of the Youth International Party (YIP) and icon of American social and anti-war activism during the 1960s and 1970s 


Tuesday, March 27, 6 p.m.

The Institute Library, 847 Chapel St., New Haven, CT 06510

"Act first. Analyze later. 

Impulse - not theory - makes the great leaps forward" (Jerry Rubin, 1970)

photo: Jerry Rubin's appearance before the HUAC (1968)

A special 35 mm screening of Jean-Luc Godard's biting 1967 satire


Monday, March 26, 2018                               7 p.m.

Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium

"The horror of the bourgeoisie can only be overcome by more horror."

Corinne and Roland, a decadent bourgeois couple, set out on a nightmarish trip through the French countryside to visit Corinne's dying father. Inspired by greed and sadistic intentions rather than by love and devotion, this journey is a shocking testimony of Godard's filmic envisioning of the end - the couple's errancies and chance-encounters echoing the atrocities of a world, which has become Apocalypse Now. 

Please join us for a special event -

"1968 in Tokyo: Art, Film, and Media"

Yuriko Furuhata (McGill) and William Marotti (UCLA)

Wednesday February 14, 2018

5:30 p.m.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Mezzanine

Spring 2018 Seminar - 1968 @ 50: Art, Architecture, and Cultures of Protest  

Seminar Program

Seminar description

Fifty years after the global wave of protest collectively remembered as "1968," this seminar pairs targeted readings of primary and secondary literature with hands-on archival research to explore the historical moment in just one of its principal aspects: the deployment of art and architecture as means of resistance in many sites of social contestation. Grounded in Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library's strong holdings in the politics of postwar avant-gardes and counterculture, primary research will focus on emergent links between art and protest in Europe and the United States, with individual  sessions devoted to local manifestations of transnational movements in Paris, Berlin, New York, Berkeley, Rome, Florence, and New Haven. A concurrent program of lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions will broaden the scope of inquiry to a global context while at the same time providing occasion for a detailed consideration of local events at Yale and in New Haven. Research findings will be presented and discussed in a concluding, full-day symposium, with the results published by the Yale School of Architecture and Beinecke Library in the fall of 2018.


Key questions to be addressed over the course of the seminar include: the possibilities and limits of art and architecture as vehicles for social change; relations between high and low culture in '68 and the contradictions inherent in the notion of an "avant-garde of the masses;" the role of violence, militancy (Black Panthers) and terrorism (RAF, Red Brigades, Weathermen); problems of geography and periodization (where and when did the historic moment "1968" start, where and when did it end?); questions of legacy and relevance; what can and does "1968" mean for cultures of protest fifty years on?

Faculty: Craig Buckley, Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Kevin Repp

Weekly sessions and concurrent events

Week 13 (05/04): Concluding Symposium (all-day public event)

Week 12 (04/18): Forget 1968 - Between Autonomia and The Movement of '77 

Movimento del 77 Collections, Gianfranco Sanguinetti Papers, Lotta Continua (periodical), Re Nudo (periodical)

Special Event: "1968 in New Haven: The Yale School of Architecture"

Panel discussion

Wednesday April 11, 2018

6:30 p.m.

Smith Conference Room, Rudolph Hall

Week 11 (04/11): Panthers and Lipstick - Yale in New Haven

Ephemera from the library of John E. Herzog, Roraback Collection of Ericka Huggins, Living Theater Records

Special Event: "1968 in Italy: Debates in Architectural Culture"

Pier Vittorio Aureli (AA/Yale) and Marta Justo Caldeira (Columbia/Yale)

Wednesday April 4, 2018

6:30 p.m.

Smith Conference Room, Rudolph Hall

Week 10 (04/04): Radical Architecture - Rome, Florence, Milan

Fausto Giaccone Photo Collection, Gianfranco Sanguinetti Papers, Superstudio Collection, Ugo La Pietra Papers

Week 9 (03/28): Strikes, Committees, and Boycotts - Art and Activism in New York

Guerilla Art Action Group/Art Strike Collection

Week 8 (03/07): Village Voices - From St. Marks to the Occupation of Columbia

Ephemera from the library of John E. Herzog

Week 7 (02/28): Berkeley Barbs - 1968 on the West Coast

Leon F. Litwack Collection, Ken Knabb Papers, Black Panthers holdings

Week 6 (02/21): Kommune I - West Berlin

Riewert Q. Tode and Horst Koehler Collections

Special Event: "1968 in Tokyo: Art, Film and Media"

Yuriko Furuhata (McGill) and William Marotti (UCLA)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

5:30 p.m.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Mezzanine

Week 5 (02/14): London Calling - King Mob Echo, Hornsey, and Others

McLaren and Ken Knabb Papers, King Mob Echo 1968-1969

Week 4 (02/07): Beauty in the Streets - Atelier Populaire and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris '68

Examples from the Zoumeroff, Gabriel Paris, Kugelberg and Utopie Collections

Week 3 (01/31): Occupations - From Strasbourg to Paris 

Mustapha Khayati and Raoul Vaneigem Papers

Week 2 (01/24): Tactics - Postwar Avant-gardes and Countercultures

Examples from Lettrism, the Lettrist International, the Situationist International, the "Gruppe SPUR," Provo, Punk

Week 1 (01/17): Art, Politics, and the Problem of '68 in Historical Perspective

General course introduction and overview

Spring 2017 Schedule

Join us for the screening of

Metropolitan Indians

A documentary by Antonella Sgambati and Claudia Salaris

Tuesday February 20, 2017

4:30 p.m.

Whitney Humanities Center, room 208

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Claudia Salaris and the artist Pablo Echaurren

 Fall  2016 Schedule


Exhibition Opening, September 9, 6-8 pm

The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up: Cobra and its Legacy

Blum and Poe Gallery, New York


click image for details 


Book Launch, September 16, 5-7 pm

Asger Jorn & Jacqueline de Jong,

The Case of the Ascetic Satyr

Blum & Poe Gallery, New York


click image for details 

Postwar Culture Working Group Events Spring 2016 and Special Events


Special Event

Utopia after Utopia

Politics and Aesthetics in the Post-Socialist World

March 4-5, 2016

From 10am to 5pm

451 College St. B04


 Dmitry Vilensky and Chto Delat

 February 11: Utopia after Utopias Workshop at 3. Derive-like excursion at 5:30 pm.

 February 12: Object session at 2:30 pm (SML, 177). Artist talk at 5:30 pm (Yale  school of art sculpture Building, 36 Edgewood st, room 204).


The first PCWG event will begin with a collective art-making session with Dmitry - Russian artists’ collective Chto Delat (What is to Be Done) - at 3 pm, followed by a dérive-like excursion into the streets of New Haven on the evening of Thursday, February 11th (5:30 pm).  MEET US AT LORIA 360.


The second, on Friday afternoon, February 12th, will explore the possibilities (and impossibilities) of engaging art outside the sphere of galleries, museums, and other “autonomous spaces” (including the Academy). Taking as our point of departure the Situationists’ expressed goal of “The Realization and Suppression of Art,” this open-ended seminar will explore genealogies in the deployment of art—or alternatively in “refusing to make art”—by social and cultural protest movements from the 1960s to the present. Objects from Beinecke’s Postwar Culture collections—including a full run of the review Chto Delat?—will be on hand to explore and to spark a lively discussion on how experiences in the “former West” (both successes and failures) relate to current developments in the “former East,” above all, the experiments  of Dmitry Vilensky and the St. Petersburg collective Chto Delat?


Please visit the  Utopia after Utopias website for details and location of the  workshop on Thursday afternoon.

Postwar Culture Working Group Events Fall 2015



         Playing with Asger Jorn 

         September 10th at Sterling Library


In this first session of Season 3 of Postwar Culture Working Group, Jacqueline de Jong, painter, sculptor and graphic artist, features the original manuscript of The Case of the Ascetic Satyr, the “erotic novel” she produced with Asger Jorn during the 1960s. The book contains the love letters between the two artists, maquettes for contemporaneous Situationist Times, and much more.


New Haven dérive and informal downtown reception to follow.

Jacqueline's visit coincides with the publication of The Ascetic Satyr, to be launched at Blum & Poe Gallery in New York. (September 16, 5-7 pm)







         Art, Resistance and the Archive

         October 26th at Loria 360



Postwar Culture Working Group's second session is  with New York-based Argentine artist Nicolás Guagnini. A conversation about Art, Resistance, & the Archive.

PCWG is also proud to support the following:






CANCELLED due to Special Event

Highlights Spring 2015

Postwar Culture Working Group Events Spring 2015

 Art and the Emercence of Situationist Critique (First session)

                              January 29, at BEINECKE.

Discussion and object session.

We will be looking at pre-situ materials from the Library’s Postwar Culture holdings.


                 Gil J. Wolman, “The Anti-Concept” (Not Bored)

                 Gil J. Wolman and Guy Debord, “A User’s Guide to Détournement”

                 “The Alba Platform”

                 Asger Jorn, “Notes on the Formation of an Imaginist Bauhaus”

                 Guy Debord, “Report on the Construction of Situations”





Art and the Emercence of Situationist Critique (Second session)

                                     CANCELED DUE TO SPECIAL EVENT


               “Détournement as Negation and Prelude”

               “The Fourth S.I. Conference in London”

               “The Avant-Garde of Presence”

               Debord, “The Situationists and the New Forms of Action in Politics and Art”

               Constant, “New Babylon” (1972) (Not Bored)




PCWG FIELD TRIP TO FILM SCREENING of Gil. J. Wolman's L'Anticoncept

                              13 Febrary, at Light Industry in Brooklyn.


Come join us for a rare chance to see this groundbreaking film as it was meant to be seen! Free tickets (while supplies last) to Field Trip participants.


First screened in Paris in early 1952, L'Anticoncept took shape at the crucial moment, at the beginning of an intense, dynamic, and creative dialogue that produced key concepts such as dérive and détournement. A perfect fit for the PCWG's program of readings this semester, starting with "Art & the Emergence of Situationist Critique." And an excellent complement to the original scenarios and screenplays held in the Gil J. Wolman Papers at Beinecke. The screening will be introduced by Professor Kaira Cabañas, no stranger  to Beinecke's Postwar Culture holdings. Copies of her latest book, Off-Screen Cinema: Isidore Isou and the Lettrist Avant-Garde (University of Chicago) will be available for purchase at the event.




The society of the Spectacle  (First session)

             February 26 at Beinecke Library

Object Session


               Parts I-III:

               Separation Perfected;

               The Commodity as Spectacle;

               Unity and Division within Appearances


Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, DONALD NICHOLSON-SMITH’s translation, Zone Books, originally published in 1994.



The society of the Spectacle  (Second session)

             March 5th, 4:30-6 pm, Room 260, Loria Center


                 Parts IV-VI:

                 The Proletariat as Subject and Representation;

                 Time and History;

                 Spectacular Time




The society of the Spectacle  (Third session)

                March 26 at 4:30-6 pm, in Room 260 at the Loria Center


                Parts VII-IX:

                Negation and Consumption in the Cultural Sphere,

                Ideology in Material Form



Post-68, Post-situ, Spectacle, and Terror

                 April 30 (Walpurgisnacht again) at the Beinecke Library

Object Session


               Guy Debord, “The Beginning of an Era”

               Raoul Vaneigem, “Terrorism and Revolution

               Gianfranco Sanguinetti, “Veritable Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy  (selections) and “On Terror and the State" (selections)





ALL READINGS, with the exception of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, are available on line at:

               a)Ken Knabb’s Situationist International Anthology

               b)On line Archives of the Lettrist International (Wolman’s Anti-Concept, Session 1)

               C) Situationist International (Constant’s “New Babylon,” for Session 2)



Postwar Culture Working Group Events 2013-2014

Henri Chopin: Text, Sound, Image

April 30, 2014

In this session Nadine Schwakopf, PhD candidate in the department of Germanic Language and Literature, and Caitlin Woolsey, PhD student in the department of History of Art, will explore the varied work of the experimental artist, poet, and editor Henri Chopin. Nadine will consider Chopin's radical investigations of sound poetry, focusing on the recordings as well as his typewriter poems. Caitlin will introduce a selection of visual collages, collectively titled the Milles Pensées, which incorporate typewriter poems and found objects; the collages were unknown until Chopin's death in 2008, when they were discovered under his bed.

New Babylon: From Provos to Punk in Amsterdam

April 4, 2014

In this session Bonny Wassing, Lecturer in the Dutch language program at Yale, gave a tour of the complex cultural-political landscape of Amsterdam in the ‘60s and ‘70s, grounded in hands-on exploration of original manifestos, posters, ‘zines, and more from the Dutch Counterculture collections at Beinecke. Even before the founding of the experimental CoBrA group, in 1948, Amsterdam was an important crossroads for avant-garde artists and activists in postwar Europe. By the early 1960s, Constant was projecting visions of his New Babylon onto its labyrinthine cityscape, where they blended with street actions of the nascent Happening movement, amorphous groups of disaffected anarchic youth culture, protests against the war in Vietnam, aspirations of pro- and ex-Situs (like Constant), exiled from the SI in Paris. Out of this maelstrom emerged the Provos, a movement that quickly took root not only in the Amsterdam City Council, but as far away as Milan, New York, and Los Angeles. The Kabouter and other groups picked up where the Provos left off, preserving the city’s place as mecca for the new transnational culture of protest, until the squatters, street artists, and musicians of Zebra House launched another new epoch: Dutch Punk.

Special Session: Gianfranco Sanguinetti and Guy Debord

February 14, 2014

Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès of Stanford University led the PCWG's first foray into the recently-acquired Gianfranco Sanguinetti Papers, looking in particular at Sanguinetti’s voluminous and largely unpublished correspondence with Guy Debord, founder and leader of the Situationist International. A novelist, playwright, and critic, Professor Apostolidès teaches French literature and drama at Stanford and has written extensively on the Situationists over the years. He is currently nearing completion of a major critical biography of Debord to be published by Flammarion’s Grandes Biographies series.


Seed text:

Guy Debord, "Report on the Construction of Situations and on the Terms ofOrganization and Action of the International Situationist Tendency," trans. Tom McDonough, in Guy Debord and the Situationist International, ed. Tom McDonough (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2002). Originally presented by Debord to the founding conference of the Situationist International at Cosio d’Arroscia,  July 1957.

Situationist Mapping

January 24, 2014

Francesco Casetti, Professor of Film Studies and Humanities, Craig Buckley, Professor of History of Art, and Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Professor of Architecture, discussed different conceptions of mapping and psychogeography.


Seed texts:

Jorge Luis Borges, "On Exactitude in Science," in Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin, 1999).


Guy Debord, Theory of Dérive (Théorie de la dérive), trans. Ken Knabb, originally published in Les Lèvres Nues 9 (November 1956), reprinted in Internationale Situationniste #2 (December 1958).


Guy Debord, On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Period of Time, trans. Ken Knabb, originally published in conjunction with Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni (1959).


Abdelhafid Khatib, Attempt at a Psychogeographical Description of Les Halles (Essai de description psychogéographique des Halles Questionnaire), trans. Ken Knabb, originally published in Internationale Situationniste 2 (December 1958).


Atilla Kotányi, Gangland and Philosophy (Gangland et philosophie), trans. Ken Knabb, originally published in Internationale Situationniste 4 (June 1960).

Pablo Echaurren and the Indiani Metropolitani

December 6, 2013

Kevin Repp, curator of Modern European Books & Manuscripts at the Beinecke, presented a small archive of material from the artist and activist Pablo Echaurren. Painter, cartoonist for the radical leftist newspaper Lotta Continua, and a leading figure in the Indiani Metropolitani, Echaurren painted the walls of the occupied University of Rome (as well as his face, in the metropolitan Indian style) and squatted a house just off Piazza Navone, the “Casa del Desiderio,” which became a kind of headquarters for the movement and for the various underground ‘zines he published in 1977.


Seed texts:


Maurizio Torealta, “Painted Politics,” trans. Lawrence Venuti, in Autonomia: Post-Political Politics (Los Angeles: SEMIOTEXT(E), 2007), 102-106.


Collective A/Traverso, “Radio Alice—Free Radio,” trans. Richard Gardner and Sybil Walker, in Autonomia: Post-Political Politics (Los Angeles: SEMIOTEXT(E), 2007), 130-134.

Art and Political Contestation in West Germany, 1957-77

November 4, 2013

Daniel Spaulding, PhD student, History of Art, Yale University, presented material related to artistic and left-wing movements in the Federal Republic of Germany dating roughly from the founding of Gruppe SPUR (for a time the German wing of the Situationist International) in 1957, through the "German Autumn" crisis two decades later, with an emphasis on periodicals of the counterculture and the New Left.


Seed texts:


Theodor Adorno, “Commitment,” trans. Francis McDonagh, in New Left Review (Sept.-Dec. 1974): 75-90.


Andreas Huyssen, “The Cultural Politics of Pop: Reception and Critique of US Pop Art in the Federal Republic of Germany,” in New German Critique no. 4 (Winter 1975): 77-97.


Ulrike Meinhof, “From Protest to Resistance” (1968).


Gruppe SPUR Manifesto.

Special Session: Umberto Eco and the Gruppo 63

October 18, 2013

Umberto Eco discussed his role in the Italian neo-avantgarde movement Gruppo 63, and talked through some original material from that period from the Beinecke’s holdings, as well as from his personal library.


Seed texts:


Umberto Eco, “The New Forms of Expression” (1973), in Apocalypse Postponed (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 129-147.


Umberto Eco, “Chance and Plot: Television and Aesthetics,”  “Form as Social Commitment,” and “The Death of the Gruppo 63,” in The Open Work, trans. Anna Cancogni (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), 105-122, 123-157, 236-250.

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Umberto Eco, "The Library as a Model for Culture: Preserving, Filtering, Deleting and Recovering," lecture presented at Yale University Art Gallery, October 18, 2013.

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