Symposium on Black Mountain College

It was the largest city I’ll ever know, the swiftest. —Charles Olson

Twombly_The Song of the Border-Guard 2_1952.jpg copyThe University of Maine Humanities Center, in collaboration with the National Poetry Foundation, presents a symposium on the history and legacy of Black Mountain College to be held at the University of Maine System’s flagship campus in Orono this October 22-24, 2015. (Program details here.)

The BMC Symposium coincides with the opening of Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, the major exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erickson at the ICA/Boston, and the publication of the accompanying catalog by Yale University Press.

The Symposium brings together artists, critics, curators, educators, scholars, students, and writers from across the nation and across the disciplines and departments at the University of Maine for a wide-ranging conversation about the people, ideas, artworks, social contexts, and conflicts that defined Black Mountain College during its relatively brief but highly influential existence.

The BMC Symposium will feature presentations, roundtable discussions, readings, and open forums. Presentations will include:

Brenda Danilowitz, chief curator of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, presenting on the transition from Bauhaus to Black Mountain College.

Ruth Erickson, assistant curator at the ICA/Boston and editor, with Helen Molesworth, of the Leap Before You Look catalog, presenting on John Cage’s Theater Piece Nº1.

Kaplan Harris, Associate Professor of English at St. Bonaventure University and co-editor of the Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, presenting on the Jargon Society.

Jonathan Hiam, curator of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the New York Public Library, presenting on the 1945 Music Institute, which was held at Kenyon College after dissension at BMC.

Vincent Katz, curator and editor of Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art, presenting on Robert Creeley’s editing of the final issue of Black Mountain Review.

Katherine Markoski, a recent postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian, presenting on Cy Twombly and Charles Olson.

Jenni Sorkin, Assistant Professor of Art History and Architecture at UC Santa Barbara, presenting on MC Richards, with a focus on her translations of Antonin Artaud and experimental theater work.

In addition, poet Anselm Berrigan, co-chair of the Graduate Writing Program at Bard, will be on hand as a discussant.

Among the University of Maine faculty who will participate in the Symposium are Carla Billitteri (English, National Poetry Foundation), Steve Evans (English, National Poetry Foundation), Gene Felice (New Media / Intermedia), Benjamin Friedlander (English, National Poetry Foundation), Kirsten Jacobson (Philosophy), Jennifer Moxley (English, Creative Writing), Justin Wolff (Art History), and others.

The Symposium builds on three courses offered at the University of Maine in 2015 by Steve Evans (English) and Justin Wolff (Art History) and looks ahead to a sequence of roundtables and gallery talks at the seventeenth annual Modernist Studies Association conference in Boston this November.

Events are free and open to the public. Watch this space for updates on the schedule.

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