The Institute for Advanced Study Presents

Political Disappointment

(In)Justice Series

Thu, Apr 18, 3:30 pm CT
In-person / Online
Free Event, Registration Requested

Black and white image of a young black girl on the shoulders of a man in a crowd

Disappointment has proved to be a durable, perhaps even inevitable, feature of the democratic project, yet so too has the resistance it precipitates. In her latest book, Political Disappointment: A Cultural History from Reconstruction to the AIDS Crisis, Sara Marcus argues that the defining texts in 20th-century American cultural history are records of losses sustained, fostered intellectual revolutions, and unexpected solidarities. Join for a riveting discussion between Marcus and Minneapolis/St.Paul-based artists Tish Jones and Sam Gould, moderated by the University of Minnesota’s Elliott Powell, about how Black writers and artists in particular confront disappointment directly, and help to produce new political meanings and possibilities. Together, they will reflect on how defeat time and time again gives rise to novel modes of protest and new forms of collective practice, keeping alive the dream of a better world.

The (In)Justice Series presented by the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota brings together scholars, artists, activists, and community leaders to discuss different visions for what justice might look like.

About the Presenters

Sam Gould: An artist, writer, and publisher, Gould co-founded artist collaborative Red76. As the lead editor of Red76, his work was commissioned by institutions such as Creative Time, the Smart Museum, Walker Art Center, and many others. In 2014, he chose to focus the majority of his practice within walking distance of his home in South Minneapolis and established Beyond Repair, an "expanded publication." As an extension of Beyond Repair, in 2020 he co-founded Confluence Studio, a social craft incubator. Interested in ideas about publication as an act of public making, his work often focuses on sociality, education, and encountering the political within daily life.

Tish Jones: Founder & Executive Director of TruArt Speaks, Jones is a poet, narrative strategist, cultural producer, and educator from Saint Paul, MN, with a deep and resounding love for Black people, arts and culture, youth development, and civic engagement. As a performance artist her work has been shared in venues throughout the United States. Her writing can be found in We Are Meant to Rise (University of Minnesota Press), A Moment of Silence (Tru Ruts and The Playwrights Center), the Minnesota Humanities Center’s anthology Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press) and elsewhere. Currently serving as a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow and an Arts Matters Artist2Artist Fellow, Jones is grateful to have been supported through grants, fellowships, and awards from The Intercultural Leadership Institute, Springboard for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, and more. The generous support she has received over the years has allowed her to excavate the kind of stories that chart new worlds—and she is eternally grateful.

Sara Marcus is an assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where she is also affiliated with the Gender Studies program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience. Her new book, Political Disappointment: A Cultural History from Reconstruction to the AIDS Crisis, is now available from Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Her previous book,Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (Harper Perennial), was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing and has been published in Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese. She is also an associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and her essays and criticism on literature, music, sound, and art have appeared in publications including Artforum, Bookforum, Dissent, the LA Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, Public Books, and Texte zur Kunst. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Interdisciplinary Humanities from Princeton and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from Columbia.

Moderator: Elliott Powell is a Beverly and Richard Fink professor in Liberal Arts, associate professor of American Studies and Asian American Studies, and affiliate faculty in the Department of African American and African Studies and the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press), and at work on two projects, tentatively titled Prince, Porn, and Public Sex, which explores the politics of sex(uality) and music in Minneapolis during the 1980s, and Illegitimate Sounds, which explores the queer potentiality of recordings like demos that do not conform to commercial audio legibility.

Reviews & More

“Marcus shows the ways in which Black activists and writers, in particular, have continued to express their political desires. In doing so, she draws our attention to the centrality of disappointment in American political life.” 
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, New Yorker

Political Disappointment is an abundant text, overflowing with Sara Marcus’s considerable gifts. She is adept at presenting history and narrative with equal clarity; her writing is urgent but also optimistic. This is a book that is sometimes painful but never sacrifices hope or beauty.” 
—Hanif Abdurraqib

”Art is the language of the spirit.” 
—Tish Jones

“Publication doesn’t begin with an object, a noun, but with the space in-between bodies, between people. Publication is a verb, an action.” 
—Sam Gould

Know Before You Go

Event Information

  • In-person Seating: General Admission
  • Doors: 2:30 pm
  • Event Begins: 3:30 pm CT
  • Online Access: You will receive an automatic email reminder one day and one hour prior to the event including the Zoom link and instructions for those who wish to attend in person.
  • Accessibility: 
    All Institute for Advanced Study (In)Justice Series events are professionally captioned and are available either online or in person at the Best Buy Theater at Northrop. Some accommodation requests may take us time to arrange, so please make requests for this event by Thu, Apr 4, 2024. If you are registering after this date, please reach out to us so we can explore available options. Questions/requests, contact Carolina Maranon-Cobos,