Skip to content

The Iconoclastic Dinner Table: Judy Chicago’s "Dinner Party" and Academic Cultural Politics

Daniel Herwitz

Pages 527 - 538



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

American identity politics in art and the university arise in the wake of the social movements of the 1960s and focus on solidarity for marginalized groups, along with the critique of the representations which have served to marginalize them. This article bookends the rise of American cultural politics with Judy Chicago’s "Dinner Party" and Linda Nochlin’s academic feminism in art history, then turns to the right-wing reaction of offense at iconoclasm towards cultural heritage in the 1980s and 1990s. It ends with the constricted nature of cultural politics in America today, both on the right and the left, arguing that on both sides a distorted idea of the right to offense is at stake.

Key Words: avant-garde; solidarity; culture wars; offense; American politics

1 Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. Ed. Jane Garnett. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

2 Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility.” Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. Vol. 3. Ed. Michael W. Jennings et al. Trans. Edmund Jephcott et al. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2002. 103-33. Print.

3 Berenson, Bernard. The Italian Painters of the Renaissance. London: Phaidon, 1959. Print.

4 Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. Print.

5 Brunette, Peter, and David Wills, eds. Deconstruction and the Visual Arts, Art, Media, Architecture. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Print.

6 Davidson, Arnold. “How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.” Critical Inquiry 13.2 (1987): 252-77. Print.

7 Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. Print.

8 Foucault, Michel. Power / Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. Ed. and trans. Colin Gordon et al. New York: Harvester, 1980. Print.

9 ---. This Is Not a Pipe. Ed. and trans. James Harkness. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983. Print.

10 Gerhard, Jane. The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2013. Print.

11 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Introduction to Hegel’s Philosophy of Fine Art. Trans. Bernhard Bosanquet. London: Kegan Paul, 1886. Print.

12 Herwitz, Daniel. The Political Power of Visual Art: Liberty, Solidarity, and Rights. London: Bloomsbury, 2021. Print.

13 Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. New York: Harper and Row, 1990. Print.

14 Nochlin, Linda. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” ARTnews Jan. 1971. Print.

15 Preziosi, Donald. Rethinking Art History: Meditations on a Coy Science. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1989. Print.

16 Redford, Bruce. Venice and the Grand Tour. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1996. Print.

17 Wölfflin, Heinrich. Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art. Trans. M. D. Hottinger. New York: Holt, 1932. Print.


Export Citation