- Vassar College
An unusual publication appeared in bookstores in the fall 1970, authored by the sociologist Maurice Stein and his collaborator Larry Miller. Published by Doubleday, its title was Blueprint for Counter Education: Curriculum – Handbook – Wall Decoration – Shooting Script. It assumed the form of a boxed set made up of three posters and an oversized paperback, whose wrappers proclaimed: “This counter-university makes obsolete the traditional university process… There is no text book, no final exam; and the ‘faculty’ includes Marcuse, McLuhan, Eldridge Cleaver, and Jean-Luc Godard.” The base of the cover promised: The Revolution Starts Here. On the back of the box, the image of a clapperboard and television hovered above a granular black and white photograph of a student demonstration: a portrait of the publication’s intended audience.
The revolution in question was at once a radical pedagogical experiment and a wholesale attempt to enact a visual turn in the organization of knowledge in the form of a “highly participative series of art-life games.” The posters, designed by the graphic artist Marshall Henrichs, were based on a set of methodically structured charts that Stein and Miller worked up during the summer of 1968 and then perfected in the course of teaching them on various campuses. They mapped shifting patterns of relations between bodies of radical thought and artistic practice extending from modernism and the historical avant-gardes as they inform the thinking of Marcuse and McLuhan to modernism and postmodernism as meditative and participatory environments to contemporary strategies for the radical transformation of society, encompassing the technoanarchist and communitarian, on the one side, and the mythopoeic and structural, on the other. The posters were understood not as finished products but as a perpetually adaptable and extensible switchboard of ideas built around the work of Marcuse and McLuhan.