UC Berkeley History of Art Department


Departmental Events

The Idea of “Global Modernism": A Symposium

The symposium addresses the emergence of “global modernism” as an intellectual, professional, and pedagogical rubric for the academic and critical study of modern visual and spatial arts around the world (nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century), with special attention to its formations at Berkeley. To some extent, “global modernism” (singular) might designate the transnational dissemination and intercultural reception of certain modernist arts, whether European-originated or not, and/or the identification of worldwide characteristics of modern(ist) arts relative to “pre-modern,” “early modern,” or “indigenous” traditions in their particular global contexts. To some extent, it might designate the conceptual field within which many modernisms (plural) around the world—sometimes described as “multiple modernisms” and “alternate modernisms”—might be studied in comparative, cross-cultural, postcolonial, transnational, and/or “global” frames that organize new directions of teaching and research. What are the backgrounds, stakes, and warrants of these or other ideas of artistic modernism(s) treated as global phenomenon/a? Is it now possible to articulate historiographies of the idea of “global modernism”? How does “global modern(ism)” relate to the parallel emergence of “global early modern,” “global medieval,” “global ancient,” and “globalprehistoric”? How does it relate to initiatives in “world art studies”? How does it relate to processes of socioeconomic and cultural “globalization”? What kinds of intellectual practices and professional training/experience does it seem to require—potentially changing the shape of disciplines, jobs, curricula, and research programs? How are major global research universities like Berkeley situated to contribute (or not)? (One goal of the symposium is to advance thinking about, and on behalf of, Berkeley’s increasing visibility as a center of “global modern studies.”)

The symposium will continue on Saturday, October 21 in 308A Doe Library. Please check back for more information about the program.

Organizers: Whitney Davis and Anneka Lenssen, History of Art, University of California at Berkeley

Sponsors: Department of History of Art; Townsend Center for the Humanities; The George C. and Helen N. Pardee Chair II at the University of California, Berkeley.