Maud Lavin

Maud Lavin is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch and Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design (MIT Press, 2001).

  • Push Comes to Shove

    Push Comes to Shove

    New Images of Aggressive Women

    Maud Lavin

    The new celebration of women's aggression in contemporary culture, from Kill Bill and Prime Suspect to the artists group Toxic Titties.

    In the past, more often than not, aggressive women have been rebuked, told to keep a lid on, turn the other cheek, get over it. Repression more than aggression was seen as woman's domain. But recently there's been a noticeable cultural shift. With growing frequency, women's aggression is now celebrated in contemporary culture—in movies and TV, online ventures, and art. In Push Comes to Shove, Maud Lavin examines these new images of aggressive women and how they affect women's lives.

    Aggression, says Lavin, need not entail causing harm to another; we can think of it as the use of force to create change—fruitful, destructive, or both. And over the past twenty years, contemporary culture has shown women seizing this power. Lavin chooses provocative examples to explore the complexity of aggression, including the surfer girls in Blue Crush, Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, the homicidal women in Kill Bill, and artist Marlene McCarty's mural-sized Murder Girls.

    Women need aggression and need to use it consciously, Lavin writes. With Push Comes to Shove, she explores the crucial questions of how to manifest aggression, how to represent it, and how to keep open a cultural space for it.

    • Hardcover $6.75 £5.99
    • Paperback $5.75 £4.99
  • Clean New World

    Clean New World

    Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design

    Maud Lavin

    Maud Lavin approaches design from the broader field of visual culture criticism, asking challenging questions about about who really has a voice in the culture and what unseen influences affect the look of things designers produce.

    Our culture is dominated by the visual. Yet most writing on design reflects a narrow preoccupation with products, biographies, and design influences. Maud Lavin approaches design from the broader field of visual culture criticism, asking challenging questions about about who really has a voice in the culture and what unseen influences affect the look of things designers produce. Lavin shows how design fits into larger questions of power, democracy, and communication. Many corporate clients instruct designers to convey order and clarity in order to give their companies the look of a clean new world. But since designers cannot clean up messy reality, Lavin shows, they often end up simply veiling it.

    Lacking the power to influence the content of their commercial work, many designers work simultaneously on other, more fulfilling projects. Lavin is especially interested in the graphic designer's role in shaping cultural norms. She examines the anti-Nazi propaganda of John Heartfield, the modernist utopian design of Kurt Schwitters and the neue ring werbegestalter, the alternative images of women by studio ringl + pit, the activist work of such contemporary designers as Marlene McCarty and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and the Internet innovations of David Steuer and others. Throughout the book, Lavin asks how designers can expand the pleasure, democracy, and vitality of communication.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £38.00
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00