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	Image: Grace Cossington Smith The curve of the bridge 1928-29 (detail)

Modernist cultures

Free lecture series

Lectures on the nature of modernism, internationalism and their manifestations in music, literature and film, both globally and in Sydney. Featuring scholars from the Centre for Modernism Studies, University of New South Wales.

Image: Grace Cossington Smith The curve of the bridge 1928-29 (detail)

Wednesdays 7.30pm
10, 17 & 31 July, 7 - 21 August 2013


Duration 1 hour
Location: Centenary Auditorium

Related exhibition: Sydney moderns

Julian Murphet

Modernism and cosmopolitanism: border-crossing in arts and letters

Modernism was the first 'world’ movement in cultural history, a simultaneous lighting up of concerted artistic efforts in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australasia. One reason for this promiscuous and unprecedented spread was the amount of abstraction intrinsic to the movement; another was the exhilaration and excitement of a repertoire of aesthetic 'moves’ that transcended parochial and national boundaries and attempted a universal mode of address. In this lecture, Julian Murphet will reveal how modernism subsumed local kinds of artistic practice and overcame them through a grid of cosmopolitan assumptions.

Dr Murphet is Professor of Modern Film and Literature, and Director of the Centre for Modernism Studies, at the University of New South Wales. His publications include Modernism and masculinity, co-edited with Natalya Lusty (forthcoming later in 2013), Multimedia modernism (2009) and other works on modern and contemporary arts and culture.


Wednesday 10 July 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm

James Donald

Jazz, modernism and jazz modernism

In the 1920s, George Gershwin defined jazz as 'folk songs for cosmopolitans.’ In this talk, James Donald shall discuss how, in the decades after the shock of the Great War, jazz provided a metaphor for the disconcerting experience of modernity, a soundtrack to the experimentation of European modernism, and sometimes a technical inspiration.

Dr Donald is Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor of Film Studies at UNSW. Among his books are Imagining the modern city and Sentimental education: schooling, popular culture and the regulation of liberty. He is completing a study of the impact of Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson on European modernism.


Wednesday 17 July 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Ed Scheer

Theatrical modernism from Ibsen to Artaud

This lecture will introduce some of the key figures and aesthetic currents in European theatrical modernism. The talk will touch on naturalism, its legacy and its practitioners such as Ibsen and the early Strindberg, through to the rise of experimentalism in the early 20th century and the key developments in later theatre and aesthetic theory associated with Brecht and Artaud.

Dr Scheer is Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW. He is a founding editor of the journal Performance Paradigm and has edited a number of books including Antonin Artaud: a critical reader (Routledge 2004). He has also contributed numerous pieces on arts and culture to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Monthly and catalogue essays for the Art Gallery of NSW, Documenta 12, the Biennale of Sydney 2006 and the Auckland Triennial 2012.


Wednesday 31 July 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Fiona Morrison (cancelled) CANCELLED

Australian modernism and Christina Stead’s 'Seven poor men of Sydney’

Note: this lecture has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances


Wednesday 7 August 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Michael Hooper

Musical modernism and Sydney

This lecture considers musical modernism as an international movement. It will begin with Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Debussy, exploring the new directions that music took in the early 20th century and the impact these composers had on music written before the Second World War. It will conclude by considering Sydney-born and Sydney-based composers and their contribution to modernism.

Dr Hooper is a postdoctoral research fellow at UNSW. His current work focuses on Australian composers working in the 1960s and 70s. He is the author of The music of David Lumsdaine, which follows his doctoral studies at The University of York. He has also published on performance and collaboration, and was a research fellow at the Royal Academy of Music.


Wednesday 14 August 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Harry Margalit

Modern aspirations in interwar Sydney architecture

The interwar period in Sydney, as elsewhere, was a period where becoming modern, and designing buildings accordingly was the subject of vigorous debate and demonstration. Styles came and went, each one the result of a specific view as to what form the contemporary should take. This lecture will review a selection of Sydney buildings of the period, and highlight the breadth of their sources, as a way of uncovering the eclectic range of beliefs co-existing in the years before the Second World War.

Dr Margalit is Director of Architecture in the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW. He has published extensively on modernist architecture, and continues to design and build.


Wednesday 21 August 2013 7:30pm – 8:30pm