Artists and Social Change
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts
Department: Lang College
Course Number: LNGC 1402
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Art History, Theory & Criticism
  • Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
  • Social Justice
Charlie Chaplin appeared for the last time as the iconic figure of the ‘Little Tramp’ in his brilliant comic masterpiece and last silent film ‘Modern Times’. ‘The Tramp’ or the underdog fighting for the poor and the destitute against the indifferent oppression of an industrialized society is arguably the most recognizable fictional character in film history. Impacted by America’s Great Depression and the consequences of global industrialization, Chaplin in 1936 wrote, directed, choreographed, produced and played the leading role in ‘Modern Times’. No one before or since has had complete control over such a sensational international hit. In the film, Chaplin explored important themes of economic and social human rights, the rise of the labor movement and his own theories of how to redress social injustice. Using Chaplin’s seminal work as a springboard, this course will trace the emergence of the ‘activist artist’ by delving into distinct movements for social change -- from the reformers at the turn of the 20th century; to the social documentarians during the Great Depression; to artists today who are working to expand global awareness of human rights issues. We will also explore the shifting nature of the artist, from those who document and satirize in order to raise consciousness, to artists who also seek to create genuine social transformation.
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions


Open to Undergraduate students.


Open to Freshman students.