Scope and purpose of the reading group

How and why do nation-states become interested in the arts, in its promotion, and regulation? How is art used by dissident groups to create or contest political identities or movements? How does this political use or promotion of art intersect with market dynamics? How do categories in art appear? What role do governments, markets and artists play in producing these categories? To whom does this matter? How do governments or political groups mediate the relationship between specific artists and their audiences?

By asking questions concerning constraints and freedom, this reading group contemplates different ways in which power translates and transforms through art practice. Recognising that the art world is an arena of power rather than simply as a tool for communication or representation, we will what art practice might tell us about social and political institutions and relations, and how it intersects with the predicaments and privileges of those with whom it engages.

We invite interested doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, academics, artists, and authors to be a part of this reading group. By reading, listening, examining, and talking together, we hope for an equally rewarding and meaningful outcome in exploring the deeply fraught yet dynamic alliance of art and politics.


The Art and Politics Reading Group is Co-hosted by CRASSH and the Global Humanities Network


Reading group information

The reading group will be held online, over Zoom, on the second Monday of each month between October and June, between 13:00 and 14:30 UK time.

All researchers are welcome, junior or senior, but they must already have a PhD or be currently enrolled in a PhD programme.

The seminars will not be recorded, as we wish to encourage everyone to speak and ask questions freely.

If you would like to join our mailing list to receive the reading group programme and links to the reading for each session, please sign up for the mailing list.

The mailing list will only be used to communicate information about the reading group and its activities.

Guidelines for seminar leaders

The reading chosen for the seminar should be a single book chapter or article, or equivalent in length. The text should not have been written by you (there may be opportunities for group members to present their own work at an event to be organised in the future).

We would like to focus on recent contributions to scholarship rather than canonical ones, and to ensure that we are studying the works of a good range of scholars beyond the Anglophone world. However, for practical purposes, as the group involves members from many different countries, the text set for reading would need to be available in English translation.

Please prepare a 15-minute introduction to be given at the beginning of the seminar, situating the reading within broader contexts or debates that you judge to be relevant, and making reference to other works by the author if you wish (please do not assume that anyone else will know these). If you wish, you may identify a series of questions to kickstart the general discussion that will follow.

Guidelines for all participants

Anyone joining the seminar will be asked to participate as fully as they feel able to so that we can all benefit from a range of different perspectives. So do please keep your webcam on, unless you need to switch it off temporarily. We understand that occasionally members will be in a setting where it is difficult to speak aloud, in that case please make use of the chat function in that situation.

This reading group should be a friendly, safe and inclusive environment, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, language, political opinion, disability, physical appearance, or religion. All participants are expected to show respect and courtesy to other participants. Anyone who does not will be removed from seminars and from the mailing list.


Reading group programme January – March 2024

All sessions will be held between 13:00 and 14:30 UK time. Zoom links and texts will be sent to the mailing list in advance of each seminar. To sign up for the mailing list, please see the instructions on the ‘Information’ tab.

The texts given below should be read in advance of the meeting.

  • 8 January 2024 (Weiyi Wu)
    Hoelscher, J. A. 2021. “Conclusion: information entanglement and the post-evental artworld” in Art as Information Ecology: Artworks, Artworlds, and Complex Systems Aesthetics, Duke University Press, pp. 220-234.
  • 12 February 2024 (Jiayao Jiang)
    Wu Hung, “Representing contemporary ruins” in A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books. 2012), pp. 200-235.
  • 11 March 2024 (Dmitri Bezuglov)
    Keti Chukhrov, “Evil, Surplus, Power: The Three Media of Art”, E-Flux Journal 110 (June 2020)

All events

Reading Group on Art and Politics
Reading group on art and politics
9 Oct 2023 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Joanna Page

Reading group on art and politics
13 Nov 2023 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Malvika Maheshwari

Reading group on art and politics
11 Dec 2023 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Joanna Page

Reading group on art and politics
8 Jan 2024 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Weiyi Wu

Reading group on art and politics
12 Feb 2024 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Jiayao Jiang

Reading group on art and politics
11 Mar 2024 13:00 - 14:30, Online

Reading group convened by Dmitri Bezuglov


Tel: +44 1223 766886