The Battle of the Brows: Cultural Distinctions in the Space Between, 1914-1945
Keynote Speaker: Dr. David Savran, CUNY Ph.D. Program in Theatre
Deadline extended to February 15, 2011
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
June 16-18, 2011
With the massive growth in the production and consumption of literature, music and art in the period 1914-1945 came powerful anxieties about cultural authority and transmission. As audiences and artists increasingly came from middle or lower classes, critics tried to distinguish between the serious and the popular. Cultural distinctions that relied, directly or indirectly, on attitudes toward hierarchies of gender, class, and race came under increasing scrutiny. It was a time of debate and radical change: new media and materials (radio, film, jazz, paperback novels) gained ground over traditional forms and venues (classical music, poetry, theatre); many arts became professionalized, rather than relying on inherited incomes; institutions such as the Book of the Month Club and the BBC formed new communities of cultural consumption.
How does recognition of these social and cultural conflicts impact our work as scholars of the space between the wars? Conversely, how does our work impact the vocabularies and values through which we access and understand the societies and cultures of this time period?
The 13th annual Space Between Society Conference, in cooperation with the Middlebrow Network, invites proposals that consider questions and problems related to cultural distinction in the years 1914-1945. Please send abstracts (no more than 300 words) along with a short biographical statement to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 February 2011. Possible topics include:
Middlebrow culture and the discourses of modernity
Art in the marketplace
Cultural capital and cultural minorities
Documentaries, Hollywood film, art film, the womans film
Theatre, vaudeville, street theatre, group theatre
Visual culture: photography, painting, advertising
Music, soundtracks, opera, jazz, musicals
Architecture, furniture, and interior design
Historical crises and cultural responses: militarization, demobilization, civilian life
Domesticity and domestic service
Pleasure, entertainment, and audiences
International popular cultures
Genres and modes: melodrama, social realism, adventure fiction, spy thrillers, romances
Movement across media: film, print, radio, gramophone
Public radio and broadcasting: BBC, CBC, ABC
Keynote Speaker, David Savran, is one of the leading theatre scholars in the United States. His most recent book, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, explores the twentieth century's first culture war and the forces that permanently transformed American theatre. Tracing the impact of jazz as a multi-cultural, cross-class phenomenon, Savran examines how playwrights, producers, and critics in the 1920s and 1930s rushed to distinguish the newly emerging literary theatre from its illegitimate cousins. The book ultimately argues that the efforts to defeat the democratizing influences of jazz and to canonize playwrights like Eugene O'Neill triumphed, giving birth to American theatre as we know it today.
Savran is a Distinguished Professor for the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Theatre; he also holds the Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre.
Hotels have been reserved for conference attendees, with special rates ranging from $49 - $149 per night.
Vice President, Space Between Society
Associate Professor, Department of English, DePaul University
Chicago IL 60614
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