An unusual publication appeared in bookstores in the fall 1970, authored by the sociologist Maurice Stein and his collaborator Larry Miller. Published by Doubleday, its title was Blueprint for Counter Education: Curriculum – Handbook – Wall Decoration – Shooting Script. It assumed the form of a boxed set made up of three posters and an oversized paperback, whose wrappers proclaimed: “This counter-university makes obsolete the traditional university process … There is no text book, no final exam; and the ‘faculty’ includes Marcuse, McLuhan, Eldridge Cleaver, and Jean-Luc Godard.” The base of the cover promised: The Revolution Starts Here. On the back of the box, the image of a clapperboard and television hovered above a granular black and white photograph of a student demonstration: a portrait of the publication’s intended audience.
The revolution in question was at once a radical pedagogical experiment and a wholesale attempt to enact a visual turn in the organization of knowledge in the form of a “highly participative series of art-life games.” The posters, designed by the graphic artist Marshall Henrichs, were based on a set of methodically structured charts that Stein and Miller worked up during the summer of 1968 and then perfected in the course of teaching them on various campuses. They mapped shifting patterns of relations between bodies of radical thought and artistic practice extending from modernism and the historical avant-gardes as they inform the thinking of Marcuse and McLuhan to modernism and postmodernism as meditative and participatory environments to contemporary strategies for the radical transformation of society, encompassing the technoanarchist and communitarian, on the one side, and the mythopoeic and structural, on the other. The posters were understood not as finished products but as a perpetually adaptable and extensible switchboard of ideas built around the work of Marcuse and McLuhan.
Like the reprint edition that it supports, the present website brings Blueprint for Counter Education back to life 45 years after the initial printing. The site is built around six components (in addition to the present introduction):
- A landing page that allows the visitor to navigate from the finalized mylar charts which were the end-product of Stein and Miller’s work backward in time through their preparatory notecards and sketches, and forward in time to the finalized Henrichs posters.
- Reprint+ a description of the 2016 Inventory Press expanded reprint edition of Blueprint for Counter Education, distributed worldwide by DAP.
- Counterviews a mosaic of video extracts from interviews with Maurice Stein, Larry Miller, and Marshall Henrichs carried out in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2013-2014.
- Happenings documentation of events and exhibitions related to the republication of Blueprint for Counter Education.
- Blueprint DIY all the necessary files for making your own reprint of Blueprint for Counter Education, including the three posters, the Shooting Script, and the box design.
- The Archive materials that document various aspects of Blueprint for Counter Education, from the full set of notecards and charts that preceded its publication to period documentation to the tables of contents of works included in the Shooting Script.