Guy Debord, the Situationist International, and the Revolutionary Spirit


Winner of the 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award

Guy Debord, the Situationist International, and the Revolutionary Spirit presents a history of the two avant-garde groups that French filmmaker and subversive strategist Guy Debord founded and led: the Lettrist International (1952–1957) and the Situationist International (1957–1972). Debord is popularly known for his classic book The Society of the Spectacle (1967), but his masterwork is the Situationist International (SI), which he fashioned into an international revolutionary avant-garde group that orchestrated student protests at the University of Strasbourg in 1966, contributed to student unrest at the University of Nanterre in 1967–1968, and played an important role in the occupations movement that brought French society to a standstill in May of 1968.

The book begins with a brief history of the Lettrist International that explores the group’s conceptualization and practice of the critical anti-art practice of détournement, as well as the subversive spatial practices of the dérive, psychogeography, and unitary urbanism. These practices, which became central to the Situationist International, anticipated many contemporary cultural practices, including culture jamming, critical media literacy, and critical public pedagogy. This book follows up the edited book Détournement as Pedagogical Praxis (Sense Publishers, 2014), and together they offer readers, particularly those in the field of Education, an introduction to the history, concepts, and critical practices of a group whose revolutionary spirit permeates contemporary culture, as can be seen in the political actions of Pussy Riot in Russia, the “yellow vest” protesters in France, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the striking teachers and student protesters on campuses throughout the U.S.

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James Trier, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published articles and book chapters about representations of education in popular culture, and his first book is an edited volume titled Détournement as Pedagogical Praxis (Sense Publishers, 2014), winner of the 2015 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Book Award.
This book will appeal to readers interested in the Situationist International, the Lettrist International, critical art practices such as détournement, theories of Spectacular culture, and the revolution of everyday life.
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