This collection of essays questions the responsibility of history and memory, the capacity for art as resistance in institutional frameworks, and the efficacy of pedagogical practices.
Together, these essays form a record of Zaslove’s writings as “breeding grounds” that function as a kind of utopian guide to the cultural present. The essays address the conditions in which consciousness of the world and thinking with and through literature and art arise out of resistanceto the institutions that hold them: how the works inhabit marginal domains as leaking boundaries or breathing holes. These essays belong within the long tradition of social radicalism and the arts, as well as within the more recent tradition of utopian thought as it relates to anarchism and social movements in “the graveyards of the present” (Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations).
The essays speak with a meditative voice based on concern for the reader and the “dialogical-poetic” relationship between reader and author. As such, they address the idea of writing expressed by Mikhail Bakhtin: “It is customary to speak about the authorial mask, but which utterances (speech acts) is there a face not a mask, that is, no authorship.”
Each of the six sections illuminate a storyline among the essays even as each essay addresses an individual subject. The reader can see them together or separately. Each section opens with a short introduction and accompanying image and goes on to show the changes and continuities in the author’s ways of thinking based on the conditions in which he has found his teaching and writing over the years.
The author invites the reader to come along with him in negotiating works of literature and the co-existing trials of culture and art and literature.
Since coming to Canada as founding member of Simon Fraser University in 1965, Jerry Zaslove has challenged present institutions of learning and the questions of how we read within and against the culture of university-based education. Zaslove directed the Institute for the Humanities and currently holds the Simons Chair in Graduate Liberal Studies. He teaches and writes in the fields of Comparative European Literature and Social History of Art influenced but not limited by the radical-minded traditions of critical theory for the arts, aesthetics, psychoanalysis, and the critique of culture.