USC News

Menu Search

Art that affects politics

"Politics in Art Forms" features films, discussion and speakers at USC.

Art that provokes action is a theme as current as the headlines. Videos, cartoons, posters, songs, films and live performances circle the globe at warp speed, often spurring protests and political action.

“Politics in Art Forms,” an international conversation on this subject among scholars at the University of Paris 8, UCLA and USC, comes to campus on Feb. 8 in a conference that includes film screenings, a panel discussion and speakers. (The first day of the conference is being held at UCLA on Feb. 7.) Events both days are open to the public. For the UCLA schedule, visit For the USC schedule, visit

Violaine Roussel, professor of sociology and political science at University of Paris 8, the conference organizer, said she has brought together scholars from sociology, political science, history and communication studies who work on the relationships between artists and politics who will “confront and compare” various art forms subject to politicization.

“Beside its interdisciplinary and comparative character,” she said, “the originality of the conference lies in the direct conversation between artists and scholars that we have organized in the three discussion panels on music, dance and film.”

The panel at USC will be about film. Starting at 9 a.m., two films will be screened in Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre: Dans la Tourmente (2012) and Day Zero (2007). The directors of the films, Christophe Ruggia and Bryan Gunnar Cole, respectively, will be present at a panel discussion at 2 p.m. in Room 108 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Other members of the panel will be USC scholars Steven Ross (history) and Michael Renov (cinematic arts) and University of Paris 8 scholars Audrey Mariette (political science) and Roussel.

At 4 p.m., USC scholar Vanessa Schwartz (history, art history, film) will speak on “Beyond Atrocity: Looking at Photojournalism,” followed by Gisele Sapiro of the University of Paris 1 speaking on “Framing the Perception of Reality: The Political Power of Literature, in Comparison With Other Media.”

Roussel said that the collaboration began in 2010 with her institution and William Roy at UCLA. An extension in 2012 of a Memorandum of Understanding with USC originally signed in 2009 brought research cooperation from USC.

Ross characterized the conference as part of a larger relationship between USC and the University of Paris 8 to create intellectual conversations between the two universities.

“In this instance,” he said, “we hope to explore the transatlantic visions of artists as activists and the ways in which various forms of artistic endeavor can awaken and politicize a population.”

Roussel said the conference has been selected to be included in a larger series of cultural events organized under the aegis of the French Embassy in Los Angeles titled “This Is Not … Art Between France and Los Angeles.” The title is a reference to René Magritte’s famous painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This Is Not a Pipe”).

Conference sponsors at USC include the Office of the Provost, the USC Dornsife Office of the Dean, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the USC Department of History, USC American Studies and Ethnicity and the USC Francophone Research and Resource Center.

Art that affects politics

Top stories on USC News