Program in Media and Modernity
The Program in Media and Modernity promotes the interdisciplinary study of the unique cultural formations that came to prominence during the last century, with special attention paid to the interplay between culture and technology. The program centers on architecture, art, film, photography, literature, philosophy, music, history, and all forms of electronic media from radio to video, to information technology. The program draws on the rich human and material resources that exist at Princeton and provides a focus and forum for research and teaching in the spaces, texts, media, and modernities of the 20th-Century. The program offers a graduate certificate and collaborative teaching, learning, and research opportunities centered on team-taught seminars and cross-disciplinary colloquia.
Graduate Certificate in Media and Modernity
The Graduate Program in Media and Modernity offers students from a wide range of fields — architecture to computer science, visual arts to anthropology, literature to political theory — the opportunity to enrich and broaden their study through participation in the interdisciplinary activities of the program. Students obtain the certificate by fulfilling the following requirements:
- participation in one of the program’s team-taught seminars;
- enrollment in at least two further seminars in 20th-Century culture outside the student’s home department.
- participation in a dissertation colloquium led by the program's director
Each year the program will designate a theme or problem that will serve as the focus of an interdisciplinary seminar and a major conference. The themes are chosen for their capacity to frame new approaches to research and teaching on 20th-Century culture. They engage issues that rarely become a central focus within established fields, yet provide a productive perspective when played back onto these fields. Past themes have been surveillance, sound, little magazines of the 60s and 70s, and the exchanges between art and architecture. The program offers one seminar each year, co-taught by scholars from different fields, which focuses on that year’s theme. Every seminar will be oriented toward the production of an event (such as a conference or exhibition), a publication, a web site, or a media project. The program, often in collaboration with other departments, programs, and centers at Princeton, sponsors a wide range of events on the year’s theme.
Architecture in Playboy/Playboy in Architecture: 1953-1979
Building on research initiated during the previous academic year, the theme designated for the Program in Media and Modernity for 2009-10 is “Architecture in Playboy/Playboy in Architecture: 1953-1979.” The thesis of this research seminar is that Playboy played a crucial yet unacknowledged role in the cultivation of design culture in the USA. Through a range of different strategies, the magazine integrated state of the art designers and architects into a carefully constructed vision of a desirable contemporary life style. The seminar will explore the ways in which Playboy was ahead of professional and popular magazines in promoting modern architecture and design. The collaborative research seminar, assembles and analyzes the magazines, the secondary literature on Playboy, the related archives, and conducts interviews with protagonists. This year's course introduced the converse perspective: studying manifestations and influence in architectural culture, domesticity and representation of Playboy itself and of the sexual revolution, erotic imagery and changing mores. As in previous Media and Modernity research seminars, the project culminates in the collaborative production of a definitive book, exhibition, or event, to be determined as the project evolves.
The 2009-2010 Media and Modernity PhD Colloquium featured a series of lectures on a array of themes, including historian Hugo Segawa on the history of modern Brazilian architecture, Dennis Crompton of Archigram regarding period films of the architectural neo-avant-garde in Archigram's archives, historian Maria Stavrinaki on early Bauhaus culture around Breuer and Stoezl's African Chair, Dr. Vikramaditya Prakash on planning at Chandigahr, and Princeton PhD candidates Alex Kitnick, Lisa Lee, Elena Peregrina, and Irene Sunwoo.
The program has continued with projects from the 2005-2006 theme of little magazines and polemical publishing from the 1960s and 70s. The exhibition "Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X to 197X," which opened in 2006 at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in NYC, and moved in 2007 to the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, Documenta 12 in Kassel, and the Architectural Association in London, has been exhibited in 2008-9 at the Norwegian Centre for Design, in Oslo, the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, and Disseny-Hub in Barcelona. The exhibition continued this academic year, showing in Murcia, Spain and in Maastricht in the Netherlands. At each venue, events are organized to address the history of locally relevant little magazine production and to expand the documentation of the exhibition. In Barcelona in March 2009, a major conference convened by Beatriz Colomina at the Collegio d’Arquitectes de Catalunya featured Peter Cook, Hans Hollein, Chip Lord, J.M. Prada Poole, Rafael Moneo, Oriol Bohigas, and Federico Correa.