Blueprint for Counter Education: Republished & Still Daring After All These Years

19May16

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The radicalism of the 1960s was reflected in theorizing about what education should look like in the New Media age of the ’60s. The thinking and method in this book revolve around two poles of thought that were big on the radar screens and in the cocktail party chatter of Sixties-era intellectuals: the ideas of the German-born sociologist, philosopher, and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) and those of Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980).Blueprint for Counter Education

by Edward M. Gómez  – May 14, 2016

Originally released by Doubleday ⎯ in retrospect, it is remarkable that such a mainstream publisher would become involved in such a subversive project ⎯ Stein and Miller’s Blueprint has just been reissued byInventory Press, a small, New York-based company. Its new, slipcased, facsimile edition faithfully recreates its original design by Marshall Henrichs, which consisted of three fold-out poster-charts and a large-format paperbound book. It adds a second book (the new Instruction Manual), which contains essays looking back at the creation, purposes and impact of the original project. This new, second book also contains, among other components, excerpts from interviews with Stein, Miller, and Henrichs, which were conducted by Jeffrey Schnapp and Paul Cronin between 2012 and 2015.

In the 1960s, Stein, a sociologist, had become known for teaching such innovative courses as “Social Theory” and “Sociology of Literature” at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. In these courses he took what would now be called a broad, multidisciplinary approach to examining art and literature. In fact, for Stein, those subjects merely served as starting points for a wide-ranging consideration of cultural, social, political and economic ideas that had emerged and cross-pollinated over the centuries. Among them, he enthusiastically sought affinities….Blueprint for Counter Education

Blueprint is not a conventional book. Instead, its poster-charts group together clusters of related theoretical or intellectual themes, or the names of the artists, writers or other thinkers associated with them; they also point to thematic-evolutionary links between the innovations or visions for which they were known. Blueprint’s “charts,” as Stein and Miller refer to them, also offer a road map for a journey through the intellectual history that shaped the outlooks and conditions of the modern age.

Shooting Script, the paperbound book accompanying Blueprint’s charts, which is, again, part of the new, reissued edition, includes Stein and Miller’s own essay explaining the genesis of the project. It offers tips on how to use the charts as a pedagogical tool. Shooting Script also contains an illustrated, experimental-form essay about the German Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) by the Polish-born poet and avantgardistStefan Themerson (1910–1988), and a Fluxus-style questionnaire by Naphtali “Tuli” Kupferberg, the American countercultural poet and founder of the 1960s rock band The Fugs, who died in 2010. Most notably, Shooting Script contains reproductions of the title page and table of contents from a large number of books and journals representing the work and ideas of a wide range of authors. These are the same thinkers, artists, and titles that appear on Blueprint’s charts.

 If all of these cultural reference points sound mixed-up and unlikely, that was, in a way, the whole point of Blueprint’s bring-together-the-varying-disciplines approach.

It did so by anchoring its thinking and method around two poles of thought that were big on the radar screens and in the cocktail party chatter of Sixties-era intellectuals: the ideas of the German-born sociologist, philosopher, and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) and those of Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980), a Canadian who analyzed and put forth theories about the nature and impact of mass media. If, for Stein and Miller, Marcuse’s critiques of capitalism, political systems, and consumer culture evoked the kind of progressive social-political change they hoped to foster, McLuhan’s critical outlook (he coined the phrases “global village” and “the medium is the message”) offered fresh, revealing ways in which to think about culture, technology and the future. (Read the full article at: http://goo.gl/3oDAEu .

Blueprint for Counter Education Launch at Harvard CCVA
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