Institute for Arts and Humanities launches second 'Moments of Change'

September 08, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- The year 1900 symbolizes a key moment of transition, a time when the world was experiencing major social and political changes, significant developments in science, technology, and medicine (e.g. the rise of the automobile, airplane, telephone, and the development of the rabies vaccine), population growth and the formation of nations, and the consolidation of capitalism and individualism.

The Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities' second annual “Moments of Change” initiative will explore the turn of the 20th century and its lasting impact on global society and culture. The yearlong project will include more than 40 events (e.g. lectures, performances, exhibitions, symposia, etc.) aimed at engaging a multidisciplinary audience of scholars, artists, students and community members.

“In the 25 years between 1889 and 1914, the world experienced the first modern Olympics, the opening of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the death of philosopher Nietzsche and the publication of Sigmund Freud's pioneering 'Interpretation of Dreams,' ” said Marica Tacconi, director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. “The turn of the 20th century revolutionized the lives of many people worldwide. Penn State and guest scholars and artists will explore the socio-cultural, artistic and scientific dynamics that triggered ebbs and flows of ideas in the period leading up to World War I. It was a time of remarkable experimentation, of heated discussion and groundbreaking beliefs marked by the pervasive desire to 'make it new' and to break away from convention and tradition.”

The 2008-09 project “'Astonish Me!' The Turn of the 20th Century (1889-1914)” kicked off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Nittany Lion Inn Alumni Lounge, with the first of four salon evenings featuring music, poetry, food, drink, and lively conversation in the spirit of late 19th-century European salons. Janet Lyon, associate professor of English, women's studies and science, technology and society at Penn State, presented “The Perfect Hostess: Salons and Modernity.” The evening also included a musical performance by School of Music faculty members Jim Lyon (violin) and Sue Haug (piano).

An interdisciplinary roundtable will follow at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, at the Nittany Lion Inn. In a series of five panels, Penn State faculty from history, philosophy, cinema, the human sciences, literature, art history, architecture, music and theatre will offer an overview of the period by addressing the major achievements, masterpieces and events of the time.

During the Sept. 20 halftime show at the Penn State vs. Temple football game, the Penn State Blue Band will perform music by Dvorak, R. Strauss, De Falla and Holst, composers from that period. Marching bands evolved from military bands at the turn of the 20th century.

Last year, the “Moments of Change” initiative celebrated and addressed the achievements of the early 1600s, a period also characterized by many cultural, artistic, scientific and political transformations.

The “Moments of Change” initiative is made possible in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and through the support of several Penn State partners.  The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is a research unit of the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and is under the sponsorship of the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of the Liberal Arts.

For a complete schedule, visit online. For information, contact Marica Tacconi, director, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, at (814) 865-0495 or via e-mail.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010