Heard on Campus: John Champagne at the Penn State Forum

John Champagne

John Champagne, professor of English at Penn State Behrend and 2018-2019 Penn State Laureate, presented "Art and Politics: The Case of Fascist Italy" at the Penn State Forum Speaker Series on Oct. 12 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Credit: Patrick Mansell

"If we adopt the idea, that art delights, instructs and moves, and we think about governing as moving one another, steering one another, then — in this definition — all art is, de facto, political. It tries to delight, to instruct, and to move us in some way."

—John Champagne, professor of English at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and 2018-19 Penn State Laureate, at the Penn Stater on Oct. 12, as part of the Penn State Forum speaker series.

"Artists have at their disposal a tool that most of us don’t have, and it’s a tool that not only affects us intellectually, but affects us on the level of the body. That’s a really powerful tool, to be able to move people not only intellectually, but spiritually, or sensually – we don’t even have a name, a word, to describe what the artwork does to us.

"So I think that in light of that powerful tool, the artist does have a different responsibility; the artist has to be more cognizant, more aware, I think."

Champagne's talk on the topic of "Art and Politics: The Case of Fascist Italy," included a look at the relationship between politics and the arts; the emergence of modernist art; and the complexities of defining the work of Corrado Cagli (1910-76) — an Italian modernist artist of Jewish heritage who became a U.S. Citizen — and its often contradictory relationship to the Italian fascist regime of 1922 to 1945.

About the Penn State Forum Speaker Series

Launched in 1996, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is designed to introduce the University community to noted leaders and policymakers in their respective fields. Open to the public, tickets are $25 for each event and include a buffet lunch, followed by remarks from the distinguished speaker. Visit the Forum website for more information about the series and a list of future speakers.