The Sword in the Stone: The Arts as Harbingers of Social Change


  • Raymond L. Forbes Jr. Chair, MS in Business Psychology College of Arts, Sciences and Technology Franklin University 201 South Grant Avenue Columbus, OH 43215



Social change, art, Arthurian legend, change waves, Zeitgeist.


Artists have been often been criticized by their scientific brethren for a lack of perceived current utility in their work. One potentially useful response to the issue of present value is through the use of historical analysis of art as a means for anticipating major social transformations. The thesis of this article is that Art, besides being representative of the Zeitgeist or spirit of its time, may well be an effective progenitor of coming significant social upheavals. The paper employs as a methodology comparison of historical waves of social change with pre-period artistic expression. Additionally, the legend of King Arthur’s removal of the magic sword Excalibur from a stone is employed as an artistic and social metaphor for Art as providing an unconventional view of the future. Example findings include art as a portent of impending social change, current movement into a new transitional period of change, and the non-linearity of both artistic and social changes.


Bazerman, M. 2014. The Power of Noticing. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 116.

Bloom, H. 2010. The Genius of the Beast. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. p. 481.

Hesselbein, F. & Goldsmith, M. eds. 1996. The Organization of the Future. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hirshberg, J. 2009. The Creative Priority. New York: Penguin.

Hughes, R. 1980. The Shock of the New. New York: Alfred Knopf, p.366.

Jensen, R. 2001. The Dream Society. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mark, M. & Pearson, C. 2001. The Hero and the Outlaw. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 59.

Matthews, R. & Wacker, W. 2002. The Deviants Advantage. New York: Crown.

Maynerd, H., & Martens, S. 1996. The Fourth Wave. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Mohrman, S., Galbraith, J., & Lawler, E. 2008. Tomorrow’s Organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Meyer, C., & Davis, S. 2003. It’s Alive. New York: Crown.

Naisbutt, J. 1999. High Tech-High Touch. New York: Broadway.

Pinker, S. 2011. “Introduction to Art & Reality”, Culture. New York: Harper Collins, p. 43.

Russell, J. 1974. The Meanings of Modern Art. New York: Harper & Row as quoted in

Sheldon, E. & Moore, W. eds. 1968. Indicators of Social Change. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Shlain, L. 2014. Leonardo’s Brain. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, p.55.

Shlain, L. 1991. Art & Physics. New York: Morrow. pp. 387-388.

Toffler, A. 1970. Future Shock. New York: Bantam.

Toffler, A. 1980. The Third Wave. New York: Bantam.

Vail, P. 1991. Managing as a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 2.







Similar Articles

1-10 of 444

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.