An original poster announcing the opening of the Anti-University of London at 49 Rivington Street, Shoreditch on February 12, 1968.
Printed offset in black on yellow paper (there were variant colours issued on pale green, blue, and pink paper stock). 76x50.5cm.
Lists the names of 66 faculty members, some of whom, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hamilton and Jim Dine, were visiting faculty. Designer unknown, although the poster's simple layout and plain typography resembles the poster promoting the Free University of New York, suggesting that Joseph Berke may have had a hand in it.
In Berke’s book, “Counter Culture”, Roberta Elzey describes how the posters “mushroomed in Hampstead, Notting Hill, coffee-bars, boutiques and universities”, and tells of how they were “forbidden on the Tube by bureaucrats who discovered a new obscenity in the name Stokely Carmichael” (Carmichael, listed as a faculty member on the poster, was expelled by the British government in July 1967 for being a “persona non grata”).
Closed 1.5cm. tear to left edge; two or three minor nicks; slight creasing to upper and lower right corners; very faint central vertical crease; o/w Very Good plus.
The Anti-University opened following an open meeting held in November 1967 organised by the Ad Hoc Coordination Committee, a group consisting of David Cooper, Leon Redler, Juliet Mitchell, Asa Benveniste, Aubrey Raymond, Stuart Montgomery, Russell Stetler, Morton Schatzmann, Allen Krebs and Joseph Berke, almost all of whom were psychiatrists or psychoanalysts. No formal qualification was needed in order to get involved, just an £8 term fee for students (later abolished), and no degrees were to be awarded. Instead, the focus of the Anti-University was to be experimental and experiential, or, as John Gerassi put it, to “Make the Revolution by living it.”
It was sponsored by a loan of £350 from the Institute of Phenomenological Studies, organisers of the Dialectics of Liberation Congress, where the idea of setting it up had first emerged (the Anti-University was an attempt to continue the informal discussions that began at the conference, which itself arose out of the seminars and discussion groups run at Kingsley Hall).
Housed in a building in Shoreditch owned by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Allen Krebs was the Anti-University’s first co-ordinator, followed later, and briefly, by Bob Cobbing, before various antagonisms led to there being no co-ordinator at all and the students effectively running things. In April 1968 the caretaker of the snack bar in the lounge area moved into the Anti-University, joined by a group of friends, in effect turning the building into a commune which, according to Roberta Elzey, helped de-institutionalise the university.
The commune ended in May, and a new group moved in, composed largely of German and Austrian students, followed in July by a third group who were travelling through London and using it as a crash pad. This group’s lack of commitment to the maintenance and upkeep of the building, combined with mounting arrears of rent, electricity and telephone, led to the Anti-University’s enforced departure from Rivington Street in August, after which classes were dispersed to the Arts Lab in Drury Lane, faculty members’ homes and various pubs. This process of self-organisation, or deinstitutionalisation, which many who had wanted a less centralised structure had previously argued for, prolonged the Anti-University in a more diffuse form until at least 1971, although it’s unclear precisely when activities ceased.