Centre for Modernist Studies

Rebuilding: Modernist Pedagogic Spaces


In response to the Covid 19 pandemic we have decided to cancel this event. We are grateful to all the participants, as well as to Karen Watson at the University of Sussex Special Collections, and the staff at the ACCA, for their hard work in putting this event together. We hope to come together to discuss this subject at a future date.

This one-day event organised by the Centre for Modernist Studies aims to compare different modernist sites of learning and reflect on their legacies today.

Wednesday, 25 March, 2020, 11am-6:30pm, Gardner Tower, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  

This event will take inspiration from our location at the University of Sussex, beginning with a session devoted to exploring Basil Spence’s post-war designs for the campus, and associated archival materials, which are part of University of Sussex Special Collections. This session will feature presentations from scholars working across the fields of art history, architecture, history, life writing and literary studies, focusing on the significance of Spence’s designs for rethinking the role of the university in postwar Britain. Speakers will focus on the democratic ideals enshrined within Spence’s designs for the university, the pedagogic scene of brutalism, and the legacies of the pedagogic vision of the 1960s in the era of corporate universities.

The afternoon will feature short contributions from scholars working across diverse disciplines, focusing on different examples of, and ways of thinking about, modernist pedagogic spaces. Talks will explore the role of art education in forming democratic citizens, how ‘destructiveness’ figures in postwar education, and on village halls as pop-up pedagogic spaces. 

Our aim is to explore how different spaces for learning have been reimagined in turbulent times. We will focus on how institutions were rebuilt in the context of socialist criticisms of the established order, the rise of Fascism, the setting up of the welfare state, and the organisation of feminist and anti-racist movements. Together, we aim to think historically and critically about how modernism—in all its diverse forms—was understood as a way of shaping democratic citizens. We aim to explore the legacies and possible futures of—as well as the limits and tensions within—radical visions for a new form of education.

We are delighted that confirmed participants include: Ben Burbridge, Daniela Caselli, Rosie Cooper, Alistair Davies, Jane Hall, Owen Hatherley, Maurice Howard, Peter Howarth, Alexandra Loske, Francine Norris, Jack O’Connor, Natasha Periyan, Jane Rendell, Kate Schneider, Arabella Stanger, and Emma West.

The final session features talks by architectural historian and writer Owen Hatherley (author of The Ministry of Nostalgia and Militant Modernism), Jane Hall, who will be speaking about her research and work with the Turner-Prize-winning collective Assemble, and Jane Rendell (from the Bartlett School of Architecture, whose books include The Architecture of Psychoanalysis and Site-Writing), speaking about ‘Strike Writing’. These will be followed by responses from Maurice Howard (Art History, Sussex) and Rosie Cooper (Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion). This final session, co-hosted with the School of English Colloquium, takes place from 5pm to 6:30pm in the Gardner Tower at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, and is open to all staff, students, and the public.

The first part of the day will take place from 11am till 4:30pm. If you would like to attend please sign up on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rebuilding-modernist-pedagogic-spaces-tickets-94854679901

The final plenary session is open to all staff, students, and the public. It takes place from 5-6:30pm, in the Gardner Tower, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. NO BOOKING REQUIRED FOR THIS EVENING SESSION BUT FIRST COME FIRST SERVED.

This event is organised by The Centre for Modernist Studies at the University of Sussex. The Centre has, since its inception, been dedicated to exploring the histories and legacies of the most challenging social, political and aesthetic questions raised by the explosion of literary and artistic activity at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is an interdisciplinary Centre, and it seeks to encourage conversations between researchers working on a wide range of modern art forms and discourses: literature, psychoanalysis, the visual arts, music, film and architecture. 

For further information, please contact one of the Directors for the Centre for Modernist Studies, Hope Wolf (h.wolf@sussex.ac.uk) or Helen Tyson (h.tyson@sussex.ac.uk).