Interdisciplinary Conference: Modernist Manhattan

New York Institute of Technology presented

The College of Arts and Sciences

8th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference:

Modernist Manhattan

Friday, March 2, 2012
NYIT's Manhattan Campus
16 W. 61st St. (11th floor auditorium)

 

View the conference schedule.

News Release: Scholars Address Social Impact of Modernism at NYIT Conference


The confirmed plenary speaker for this conference was Marshall Berman, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, CUNY. 

Bryan Waterman, Associate Professor of English at New York University, gave an introductory presentation.

This interdisciplinary conference looked back on New York City of roughly 100 years ago, emphasizing the city's relation to concepts of modernism and modernity -- considered broadly. We invited participants from all fields of study to focus on New York as (perhaps) a principal site of modernist visual art, literature, society, and politics, and to propose ways that the cultural life of the early twentieth century continues to influence the metropolis today.

New York experienced an eruption of technological and cultural change during the early decades of the 1900s. Movements ranging from the artistic to the avowedly political (unionism, cubism, communism, anarchism, imagism, capitalism, etc…) embraced, participated in, and reacted against the complex forces that converged in those years. New York City was the setting of cultural touchstones ranging from the 1913 Armory Show to the 1919 victory parade of the African American 369th Battalion, from Margaret Sanger's birth-control clinic (opened 1923) to the Depression-era Hoovervilles in Central Park, from anarchist rallies in Union Square to the 1929 Wall Street crash. This conference will examine such instances and developments, asking whether modernist New York should be considered a participant in an Anglo-European transatlantic cultural sea-change or whether the New York version of modernism should be articulated with a new set of coordinates and definitions (e.g., emergent globalisms and transatlanticisms, the impact of the Great Migration, the expanding consumer culture, the rise of the Harlem Renaissance).

Speakers, panelists, performers, and exhibitions from a variety of disciplines addressed questions such as: What was "modernist" about New York City 100 years ago? What does "modernism" mean now? Does it still reverberate, and if so, how so? How did New York create or contribute to paradigms about modernism, or how does looking at New York undermine and challenge those paradigms?