Joshua Clover: Riot. Strike. Riot.

May 27, 2016

Joshua Clover & Stan Douglas

Friday, May 27, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings St.

Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, Galleries, & School for Contemporary Arts

Award-winning poet and scholar Joshua Clover will be discussing his new book, Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings. Clover identifies our time as an “age of riots,” where the struggle of people versus state and capital has taken to the streets, and theorizes the riot as the form of the coming insurrection.

Following his talk, Clover will be in conversation with Stan Douglas, a Vancouver-based artist whose work has addressed Vancouver's riot history and current social issues. The discussion will be moderated by Melanie O'Brian, director of SFU Galleries.


Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings explores this "age of riots" and offers a new understanding of this present moment and its history. Rioting was the central form of protest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was supplanted by the strike in the early nineteenth century. It returned to prominence in the 1970's, profoundly changed along with the coordinates of race and class.

From early wage demands to recent social justice campaigns pursued through occupations and blockades, Clover connects these protests to the upheavals of a sclerotic economy in a state of moral collapse. Historical events such as the global economic crisis of 1973 and the decline of organized labour, viewed from the perspective of vast social transformations, are the proper context for understanding these eruptions of discontent. As social unrest against an unsustainable order continues to grow, this valuable history will help guide future antagonists in their struggles toward a revolutionary horizon.


Joshua Clover is an acclaimed writer and professor of English at the University of California, Davis. He specializes in 20th/21st century poetry and poetics, Marxism, political economy, world-systems analysis, crisis theory and cultures of finance, with an interest in environment, feminism, and political struggle in literature. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Comparative Literature, and affilited faculty in French and Italian DepartmentFilm Studies Program and the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

His earlier work includes another book on cultural theory, Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About, as well as article contributions to journals from Representations to Critical Inquiry, and a column at The Nation. Forthcoming work focuses on poetry and the transformation of the world-system. He has also published three books of poetry, most recently Red Epic, been translated into several languages, and appears in many anthologies including the Norton Introduction to Literature.

Stan Douglas is a Vancouver-based artist whose work addresses social and cultural issues through historical and contextual lenses. He has created films, photographs, and installations that reexamine particular locations or past events. One of Douglas' works is housed in the Woodward's atrium: "Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971," which depicts a scene from the Gastown Riot of 1971.

His works often take their points of departure in local settings, from which broader issues can be identified. Making frequent use of both analog and digital technologies, Douglas appropriates existing Hollywood genres (including murder mysteries and the Western) and borrows from classic literary works (notably, Samuel Beckett, Herman Melville, and Franz Kafka) to create ready-made contextual frameworks for his complex, reimagined narratives that pertain to particular locations or past events.


Melanie O'Brian has been the Director/Curator of Simon Fraser University Galleries since 2012. Previously she was Curator at The Power Plant in Toronto, where she curated an exhibition with Stan Douglas; Director/Curator of Artspeak in Vancouver; and Assistant Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her current curatorial interests are around land use, sovereignty, social tools, and unstable histories.