M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents
The colloquium is an exciting opportunity for Ph.D. candidates to share their research and receive feedback from faculty and colleagues across a wide range of departments.
Eden Consenstein (Religion)
Dry Sentiment: The Religious Politics of Midcentury Liquor Advertising
From 1947 to 1956, a vocal coalition of Protestant temperance activists advanced a series of bills that would prevent print liquor advertising from moving across state lines. They argued that liquor advertisements threatened to disorder traditional family life by enticing parents to drink. The movement took particular aim at Henry R. Luce, the editor of Time and Life magazines, who was well-known for advancing the importance of Christianity in U.S. politics and culture. Temperance organizers charged Luce with contradicting his own Christian commitments by printing advertisements for liquor, wine and beer. While Luce assumed mass media circulation could bring about a more-pious populace, temperance organizers wanted to insulate sober homes and neighborhoods from the enticements of liquor advertisers. This paper describes how the mid-century movement against liquor advertising—a revealing and understudied endeavor to gum up the works—complicates prevailing histories of Christianity, media and capitalism in the United States.
[Dissertation — Religion at Time Inc.: From the Beginning of Time to the End of Life]
Curt Gambetta (Architecture)
Image Transfers: Materials as Media in Post-Liberalization India
This paper considers the production of imitation materials for housing in India after economic liberalization in the 1980s and 90s, focusing on the production of ceramic imitations of marble in Bangalore, a megalopolis in South India, and Morbi, an industrial center in North India. It draws on ethnographic fieldwork in spaces of off brand tile production such as factories, showrooms, and urban workshops, showing how tile artists, dealers, consumers, and middlemen in India relay and translate images of imported Italian marble for consumption in regional markets in India and export markets. By tracking the circulation of printed and digital marble images between different sites in India, Italy, and China, the paper will reflect on how newly ascendant social groups in India have made use of tile printing and other media-saturated techniques of imitation to embrace and distance themselves from the material culture of globalizing elites and global value chains.
[Dissertation — Mold House, Mud House, Marble House: A Historical Anthropology of Making Do in Postcolonial India]
Austin Hancock (French / Italian)
Periodical Pugilism: Francis Picabia’s Rrose Sélavy and Boxing in Dada Magazines
My presentation centers upon Francis Picabia’s insertion of heavyweight Georges Carpentier’s portrait onto the cover of his magazine 391’s final issue, where, seizing on Carpentier’s resemblance to Marcel Duchamp, Picabia has relabeled the boxer’s likeness as that of Duchamp’s feminine alter-ego Rrose Sélavy. This piece’s origins have long been misidentified in scholarship. However, having located the postcard of Carpentier which Picabia used for this cover, I contextualize Picabia’s appropriation of the boxer’s image within Picabia’s feud with André Breton as well as a periodical arena where exchanges between avant-garde journals and boxing media were surprisingly common. Tracing such interactions from the poet-boxer Arthur Cravan’s early appearances in the sports pages up to 391’s final issue, I thus show how Dada magazines drew upon the conventions of the boxing press to interrogate divisions between print genres and gender roles, articulating a performative but nonetheless pugnacious model of male artistic identity.
[Dissertation — La Boxe Contre L’Ombre: Boxing and the Historical Avant-Garde, 1909-1939]
William Stewart (German / IHUM)
Geometric Wrappers, Stackable Chairs, Airplane Food: Packaging as Cultural Logic in Postwar Germany
Architectural critic Reyner Banham once described the postwar German school of design, the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (HfG), as “absent a characteristic style,” notable only because of the “cabinet work of Braun electronics.” Unwittingly, Banham’s lampoon identifies a primary site of the HfG’s intervention: the cabinet, the container, the shell, the formatting wrapper. Multiply characteristic, the Ulmers’ fixation on packaging serves as a key vector for the continuation and transformation of the prewar discourses around standardization and modularity. How was packaging made political at the HfG? Why would a pedagogy confronting a materially ruined postwar Europe place so much emphasis on containers? And just how far into an environment can techniques of wrapping reach? This paper explores the social, economic, and aesthetic ramifications when content and package are one and the same.
[Dissertation — Mathematik ist immer Geist: The Persistence of Mathematical Humanism and Aesthetic Rationality in Postwar Germany]