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Friday, June 9 • 1:30pm - 1:50pm
Curricular Interventions: Critical Making, Social Justice, and CVSN at 10

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How do we create opportunities for undergraduates to engage in critical making for social justice? If, as Stefano Harney and Fred Moten argue, “it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of” (2013, 26), what are the trade-offs in institutionalizing de/re/constructive and critical approaches to media making and domesticating it within the space of the university?

This presentation reflects on the past ten years publishing CVSN, a peer reviewed student publication from the Critical Visions program at the University of Cincinnati (https://www.criticalvisions.org). Founded in 2011 as a joint endeavor between faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), the cross-college curriculum teaches students how to effectively combine critical theory and social analysis with art, media, and design practice to: increase students' understanding of what is at stake in how we see, including the social and political ramifications of advertising, art, media, popular culture and science, among other dominant and subversive visual forms and visualizing practices; and develop new artistic, media or design forms and practices that will intervene in dominant ways of seeing and explaining the world. The publication has taken many forms—art/design broadside, magazine, field guide, anthology, digital zine, and almanac—but is always produced on a single topic in the space of a single semester. Past issues have explored space, the future, color, surface, identity, and land/water. The capstone course, co-taught across Anthropology and Fine Art, guides the process and draws on a rotating editorial board and guest faculty for crits of works-in-progress. Students design both their own inquiries and the final publication, producing the most recent issues on a Risograph, printing, folding, and binding them collectively. The program has been supported by grants from the university, but has no standing budget, no dedicated teaching lines, or service credit for running it.

In this presentation, we will provide an account of creating and maintaining a critical making and social justice curriculum and publication, including the infrastructural and institutional impediments to this work. We will show how institutional interests in innovation, scalability, and impact created openings for this work, while the durational qualities of maintenance and infrastructural work to reroute resources and reconfigure the university gives it its potency. We will also share strategies we have used to sustain and not grow our program and the kinds of critical making for social justice we have fostered.

Reference Cited
Harney, S., & Moten, F. (2013). The undercommons: Fugitive planning & Black study. Minor Compositions.

avatar for Stephanie Neda Sadre-Orafai

Stephanie Neda Sadre-Orafai

Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati

Friday June 9, 2023 1:30pm - 1:50pm EDT
Main 210