Art Historian One of 26 Statewide SUNY Grant Recipients

To help fund UB conference on 19th-20th century "new woman" in global visual culture

Release Date: May 31, 2011 This content is archived.


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Art historian Elizabeth Otto is organizing a conference to address visual representations of the "new woman" from the 1870s through the 1960s.

BUFFALO, NY -- Art historian Elizabeth Otto, PhD. assistant professor of modern and contemporary art, Department of Visual Studies, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $5,000 Conversations in the Disciplines (CID) grant from the State University of New York for the 2011-12 academic year.

Otto, the only UB faculty member among 26 CID recipients this year, will use her grant to help fund "The International New Woman in Photography and Film," a conference on gender and representation to be held at UB September 15 and 16.

The conference will address representations of the "new woman" from the 1870s through the 1960s, a period in which more and more women became educated, dramatically increased their presence in the workforce, actively challenged notions of gender identity and provoked the emergence of a feminist wave that resulted in dramatic social change throughout the world.

Otto says, "The conference will consist of two panels and the presentation of seven papers that will examine the rise and dominance of the 'new woman' as a mass media star, and look at female agency through representations of and by these 'new women.'

"Case studies will engage Europe, North America, Asia and Africa," she says, "and offer rigorous analysis of the depiction and self-construction of modern femininity in relation to modernity, art, media, culture and colonialism, among other key discourses."

Otto received the award in conjunction with three SUNY colleagues who will collaborate on the conference: Kristine Harris, associate professor of history and director of the Asian Studies Program at SUNY New Paltz; Leesa Rittelmann, associate professor of visual arts and new media at SUNY Fredonia; and Kathleen Vernon, associate professor of Hispanic languages and literature at Stony Brook University.

At UB, Otto teaches European and American art and visual culture from the 19th-century to the present and courses on gender and theory, and the history of photography.

She has written a number of scholarly articles and is currently working on a book titled "Haunted Bauhaus: Sprit and Body in the Home of Rationalized Culture," which challenges conventional understandings of the Bauhaus, interwar Europe's most influential art institution.

Hers will be the first sustained investigation of the way the Bauhaus engaged with the body in relation to spiritualism and the occult, gender and figuration and the surreal. The book explains how, despite the sleek surfaces and cold structures that defined the Bauhaus, there lurked an unexpected embrace of the irrational.

Otto also is the co-editor of "The New Woman International: Photographic Representations, from the 1870s through the 1960s" (University of Michigan Press, 2011) and the author of "Tempo, Tempo! The Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt" (Berlin: the Bauhaus-Archiv and Jovis Verlag, 2005).

She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (German Chancellor Award), the American Association of University Women, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and UB's Humanities Institute. In the 2010-11 academic year, she was the Early Career Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Humanities Center.

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