Sara Marcus - "Political Disappointment" - Peter Coviello

Monday, November 6, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Sara Marcus


Sara Marcus will discuss Political Disappoinment: A Cutural History from Reconstruction to the AIDS Crisis. She will be joined in conversation by Peter Coviello. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op.

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: Moving from the aftermath of Reconstruction through the AIDS crisis, a new cultural history of the United States shows how artists, intellectuals, and activists turned political disappointment—the unfulfilled desire for change—into a basis for solidarity. Sara Marcus argues that the defining texts in twentieth-century American cultural history are records of political disappointment. Through insightful and often surprising readings of literature and sound, Marcus offers a new cultural history of the last century, in which creative minds observed the passing of moments of possibility, took stock of the losses sustained, and fostered intellectual revolutions and unexpected solidarities.

Political Disappointment shows how, by confronting disappointment directly, writers and artists helped to produce new political meanings and possibilities. Marcus first analyzes works by W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers that expressed the anguish of the early Jim Crow era, during which white supremacy thwarted the rebuilding of the country as a multiracial democracy. In the ensuing decades, the Popular Front work songs and stories of Lead Belly and Tillie Olsen, the soundscapes of the civil rights and Black Power movements, the feminist poetry of Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich, and the queer art of Marlon Riggs and David Wojnarowicz continued building the century-long archive of disappointment. Marcus shows how defeat time and again gave rise to novel modes of protest and new forms of collective practice, keeping alive the dream of a better world.

About the author: Sara Marcus is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where she is affiliated with the gender studies program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience. Marcus is the author of the punk-feminist history Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (2010), which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing and has been published in four languages. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Marcus’s writing has appeared in publications including American Literary History, American Literature, ArtforumBookforum, Dissent, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Republic.

About the interlocutor: Peter Coviello is the author of six books, including Make Yourselves Gods, a finalist for the 2020 John Whitmer Historical Association Best Book Prize; Tomorrow’s Parties, a 2013 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies; and Long Players, a memoir selected as one of ARTFORUM’s Ten Best Books of 2018. His newest book, Is There God After Prince?: Dispatches from an Age of Last Things, was selected for The Millions’ “Most Anticipated” list for 2023. He taught for many years at Bowdoin College and since 2014 has been at UIC, where he is Professor and Head of English. 

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago 60637