Since the early nineteenth century, artists have written manifestos to communicate their intentions, political motivations, and collective agendas. Manifestos have played a significant role in shaping how we think about art, but they are rarely considered beyond the most visible artistic movements or in relation to feminist, queer, and antiracist theory. This course is structured to examine manifestos as unorthodox texts, leaking with emotion, humor, and anger, in order to offer an important critical frame for studying art in relation to gender, power, oppression, and autonomy. How do manifestos focus cultural and political energy? How do we understand manifestos as both historical documents and performative texts? What information do manifestos illuminate about a specific time and place? What creative activities do manifestos generate across time and space? By reading manifestos with and against feminist and queer art practices, and by taking an interdisciplinary approach to critical theory, the course examines the method, rhetoric, aim, style, and substance of manifestos to understand their importance and efficacy.


Manifesting: In addition to participating in discussions, students will be led in weekly practice-based workshops. “Manifesting” exercises will allow students to work with different artistic provocations that emerge in the weekly readings. These sessions will additionally expose students to a variety of artistic skills and techniques to aid in their development as critical thinkers.

Values in Action

Lecture: 4:00 to 5:30 pm, Tuesdays, Founders Hall, Room 401


Patricia Maloney


Seminar: Thursdays, 5:35 to 7:05 pm, B Building, Room 5

Office Hours: Mondays by appointment in Oakland

Olive Mckeon


Seminar: Thursdays, 5:35 to 7:05 pm, B Building, Room 7

Office Hours: By appointment

Ozge Serin


Seminar: Tuesdays, 5:35 to 7:05 pm, B Building, Room 7

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12 to 2 pm or by appointment

Ann Skartvedt


Seminar: Thursdays, 4:00 to 5:30 pm, B Building, Room 5

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:00 pm or by appointment


We have entered a world in which all foundational grounds—nature, god, reason, humanity, nation, truth, and so forth—have been questioned; in which it is difficult to conceive of grand mechanisms for stitching together a world torn into incommensurable fragments. We now resist imagining a single standard of value by which to measure things, and instead explore multiple systems of and frameworks for understanding value.  

We will think through an expansive sense of what both “value” and “action” might mean today from a range of disciplinary perspectives. We will consider how critical theorists as well as historians, novelists, artists, activists, and occupiers with different methodological, political, and aesthetic commitments think and inquire about multiple modes of valuation and action. We will learn to articulate our own values, being able to listen and receive those of others, and delve into the complex, uncomfortable space of diverging opinions.

Readings will:

  • Encourage discussion of social structures on the formation of beliefs and values;

  • Create awareness of social differences as well as forms of power, and privilege;

  • Explore political protest and social movements as well as differing scales and forms of activism;

  • Relate art practices to questions of ethics and politics;

  • Reckon the (im)possibility of ethico-political action in a time of permanent crisis


Critical thinking is the active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or form of knowledge, the grounds that support it, and the conclusions that follow. It involves analyzing and evaluating one’s own thinking and that of others. Critical thinking usually rests on reading and written communication skills, on scientific method, or on some combination of both.

In addition to drawing connections between our own lives to larger social structures in Values in Action, we will develop our skills in reading comprehension, analysis, synthesis, argumentation, and social contextualization.

Students completing Values in Action will use course materials, assignments, and discussions to fulfill the following learning outcomes:

Written Communication: Summarize the thesis or central claims of assigned reading and identify the evidence offered in support of those claims.

Information Literacy: Select appropriate evidence to support or refute a given claim about a text, event, or phenomenon.

Interdisciplinarity: Apply concepts learned in one context or in relation to one activity or skill to other contexts or to meet other needs.

Critical Thinking: Consider and address counterarguments or alternative claims.

Cultural Literacy + Diversity: Engage with diverse and global perspectives, histories, and values, including the cultural relevance of larger systems of power and privilege.

Oral Communication: Participate in a classic seminar-style conversation as an informed interlocutor among peers.


Reading materials will be provided on each seminar’s Moodle page.

When possible, you should print out and bring hard copies of the readings to class, with notes in the

margins from your reading. Please also bring materials to class to take notes by hand (pens,

notebooks, etc.)

Laptops, tablets and phones are not allowed in class, unless otherwise indicated. We want you to be present, not mediated by a screen.

Course Requirements

Participation: (at lecture and in seminar): 20%

Attendance: (at lecture and in seminar): 15%

Students are expected to participate fully in lecture and seminar discussions and exercises.

As per CCA policy, two absences will impact your grade; three or more absences is grounds for failure

Reading Response Quizzes: 30%

Each week three to four reading questions will be distributed prior to the lecture. The instructors will select one of those questions for you to answer at the start of lecture. On one side of the provided notecard, record your name, section number, and answer. On the other side record one question or comment that you have about the readings or lecture material.

Unit Assignments: 35%

An essay assignment will be due at the end of each unit. Detailed instructions for each assignment will be provided in seminar.

Essay 1: Argument Excavation Paper 10%

Essay 2: Media Analysis Paper 10%

Essay 3: Action Reflection Paper 15%

Academic Integrity

The reputation of the College and the value of its degrees rest upon the study and research carried out

at that institution. the policy for maintaining academic honesty is that each student is responsible for

creating and writing their own work. this means that any paraphrase, quotation, or summary from

another source that is not your own requires explicit citation. any papers, works, or assignments written

for this course and others must abide by the College’s policy on academic honesty and its definition of


The consequences for plagiarism may include, but are not limited to, a lowered grade for the

assignment, or failure for the course. all cases of plagiarism and violations of academic honesty are

referred for disciplinary action to the Deans of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs. Please

speak with the instructor if you would like further clarification.

Access and Wellness Services

Students with disabilities, including disabilities that are not clearly evident like chronic diseases or

learning disabilities, are encouraged to notify their instructor after class or during office hours. Students

should also contact the Director of Access and Wellness Services, Suzanne Guevarra at

510.594.3775, or, to schedule an answer any questions or for

assistance. For more information:

Learning Resource Center

We highly recommend that you use this resource. CCA's coaching program consists of individual

academic coaching, software coaching, and organizational assistance such as time management and

study skills., Oakland: Irwin Hall, room 213, San Francisco:

Student Affairs Office, 80 Carolina.

Values in Action-Syllabus.pdfValues in Action-Syllabus.pdf