Monthly Archives: December 2009

Just a last minute addition.

Debate between Lawrence Lessig and Andrew Keen, as promised.

As well as,

Quick note on Jenkins…

I found Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers to be very relevant and a unique application of the Marxist thought and critiques that we have read this semester. Jenkins’ text brings up many interesting questions about the influence of fan culture, especially on the original work. I always found it somewhat puzzling that the creators of the work would be opposed to fan-created materials because I didn’t think it would have a significant impact on the original work, but Textual Poachers led me to understand that this type of interpretation can actually change its meaning. By reinterpreting the original text, fans influence future interpretations, and the original work will become conflated with the fan text. Jenkins bring up the notion that reading is no longer a passive activity and fans now have the ability to actually change the original meaning. On the other hand, I do believe that many of these fan cultures truly bring value to the original work because we make the meaning. While I am not very familiar with the fan culture surrounding Star Trek, it seems like the show would be nothing without the fans. I also found Jenkins’ thoughts of female social predispositions toward fandom particularly interesting, especially his observation that females are more inclined to interpret the story whereas men tend to stick to the original story.

Korda vs. Fairey

After reading the introduction the first week of class, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the rest of Che’s Afterlife. On account of my research paper topic, the Shephard Fairey image of Barack Obama was at the forefront of my mind while reading Casey. Korda’s image of Che resembles the Fairey image of Barack Obama and both men have essentially become brands that can be bought and sold in a public marketplace. However, Che’s consumer appeal was established primarily after his death, whereas Obama is in the midst of making his own brand and legacy. It is problematic that in both cases, the images of these two extremely influential men do not necessarily stand for their beliefs or causes but have come to represent more of their commercial appeal. Ironically, Che once said, “man really attains the state of complete humanity when he produces, without being forced by physical need to sell himself as a commodity”. While the image of Che is meant to be a symbol of his anti-capitalist beliefs and still partially holds this meaning, the Fairey image serves no other purpose than to market Obama. This explicit difference between two ostensibly comparable images illustrates how celebrity and branding has made its way into politics.

A Twist on Marxism by Casey

Throughout the semester we have been exposed to various texts by Marx and his followers, such as Gramsci, Althusser, Fanon, and Said which heavily criticize or at least question the effects of capitalism and colonization. Yet, now we move a bit away from the criticism of capitalism to an understanding of its relevance in marketing iconic images of subversion, such as “El Che.” In his analysis of Che Guevara Casey reflects on the irony of what Che stood, which was an opposition to the predatory spread of capitalism, and the way that his image has now become part of its consumerist system.

The strength of Casey’s book centers on the symbolism and re-appropriation of the image of Che. Why do people use this icon or symbol by wearing the logos? I would argue that many people who consume Che do not really know who he is. I personally have experienced this when I asked people who wear this logo if they know who he is and most do not, nor what he stood for. I think what is important is to explore the appeal to Che. Casey does this by discussing the sexy image of a young virile Latino revolutionary man. This also reminded me of the way that Marcos (Zapatista subcommander) has become an icon through the media. Could it be for the same reasons?

I also thought it was interesting the way that Casey included alternative versions of Che’s image from the voice of the son of a man who was assassinated by Che. I thought this was interesting because I have actually read about Che and watched the various films about his life, and this idea of his murderous side has not been something I reflected on.

I think Casey’s book is very interesting and a nice conclusion to our analysis of Marxism and Cultural Studies in the sense that it makes the theory relevant to our (U.S.) society today. I found myself really enjoying this book. I think that what makes his book interesting is really the appeal that figures like Che have for us.

Judith Butler’s Lecture info.

As part of the upcoming conference “Becomings, Misplacements, Departures: Butler and Whitehead as Catalysts for Contemporary Thought,” organized by the Whitehead Reseach Project (see their website ), and partly supported by a grant from the Bradshaw fund of the Humanities Center of the School of Arts and Humanities, world-renowned philosopher and critic Judith Butler will hold a special session for SAH students.

This seminar will take place 2:00-4:30pm in Albrecht Auditorium on Thursday, December 3. Professor Butler will read some pages from her book Giving an Account of Oneself (Fordham, 2005), and then answer questions and engage in dialogue about the book and the issues it engages.

All currently enrolled students in Arts and Humanities are welcome to attend this seminar (and the conference, which begins after the seminar).

Berger Essay

Hi, all. The Berger citation we were talking about in class yesterday is:

John Berger, “Che Guevara Dead,” in Aperture Vol. 13, no. 4 (1968).

Unfortunately, the text doesn’t seem to be available in the library, but it could be requested via interlibrary loan, if you’re interested…