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Artistic Modernism and the Confluences of Interdisciplinarity

Inspired by the MSA's theme "Confluence and Division," this panel asks, what does interdisciplinarity in the context of artistic modernism mean? In what ways is interdisciplinarity itself a meeting or a flow between the disciplines, and in what ways, despite all its best efforts, is it nonetheless rotted in presumed divisions between fields and media?

Such divisions between disciplines are in some ways part of the heritage of Greenbergian formalism, but the emphasis on context in the "new art history" - not to mention its own interdisciplinary methodologies - enabled a broader recognition of a range of practices as worthy of analysis. The expanded awareness of the role of interdisciplinarity in artistic theory and practice not only corresponded with a shift from artistic modernism to post-modernism and then the contemporary, but it also opened the door for a reassessment of the role played by interdisciplinary interactions in modernism.

It is clear that the art world's emphasis on Greenbergian modernism in effect concealed the actual interdisciplinarity that thrived in plain sight. This panel seeks to draw further attention to previously un- or under-recognized examples of such interdisciplinary approaches that existed at the heart of the theories and practices of artistic modernism. Examples include: art historians such as the America Meyer Schapiro who sought theoretical inspiration in fields including anthropology, psychology and linguistics, among others; sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi who constructed stage sets for Martha Graham's choreographies; and Dadaists such as Raoul Hausmann who created photomontages as well as performance art.

In some cases, the nature of interdisciplinary work was collaborative; each individual created according to their specialization and contributed to the whole. In other cases, the individual worked in a cross-disciplinary manner, engaging fields in ways that bridged the distinctions between them. The impetuses for interdisciplinary work among modernists were multiple. In some instances, individuals saw the work being done in other disciplines as a possible means to avoiding gendered or racial assumptions. In other examples, interdisciplinary investigations were a means to challenge hierarchies ensconced within their own fields, or even to model future collaborative ideals. By bringing together papers that address interdisciplinary work in artistic modernism, this panel seeks to deepen our understanding of the cultural production that countered the dichotomies and hierarchies that used to be seen as inherent to modernism.

This panel welcomes papers on topics in the visual and performing arts as well as in theory and criticism, philosophy, and historiography.

Send a brief abstract (about 200 words) and a CV to Susan Funkenstein (s.funkenstein@yahoo.com) and Cindy Persinger (persinger@calu.edu) by May 1, 2014.


Conference Location: Pittsburgh, USA
Conference Starts: November 06, 2014
Conference Ends: November 09, 2014

CFP Submission Deadline: May 01, 2014

For more information, contact: Susan Funkenstein

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