250 | CCN: 31418

Rhetoric of the Image

The Factory

Instructor: Winnie Wong,

4 Units

More powerfully than any other topos, the factory has shaped conceptions of work in the historical and contemporary imagination. The wide swath that it cuts across the artistic sphere is evidenced in the stunning transformation of Dante's vision of Venice's Arsenale as Inferno to the 2003 Venice Biennale's use of the same site as an Utopia Station. Through such divergent rhetorics run the practices epitomized in the industrial factory—the division of labor, the separation of tasks, time, discipline, bossing, sweating, skilling, deskilling, mechanization and the assembly line.

This course reads broadly across theories, politics and fictions of the factory, including texts in social theory, political economy, history, anthropology, historical fiction and artistic fiction. We will examine both historical and contemporary cases of the artist factory, the artisanal factory, the social factory, the socially-conscious factory, the sweatshop, the workshop, the manufactory, the house of the factor, and the factory zone. How, when we think about labor and its constituents—body, gender, class, race—do we mobilize the rhetorics of the factory? How are the aesthetics and operations of the pre- and post-industrial delimited by the factory as imagined site? How do rhetorics of fact, facture, manufacture and the contrefait shape how we think and perform work and resistance, craft and discipline, creativity and alienation?