Faculty Research: Dr. Janet Davis to Deliver Keynote at “Circus and the City” Symposium

Attention, New Yorkers! Dr. Janet Davis, one of our faculty members, will be giving a keynote lecture to the Bard Graduate Center’s Symposium, “Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010.”

From the Bard Graduate Center:

This half-day symposium is being held in conjunction with the Circus and the City exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center.  The exhibition is made possible, in part, with support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and anonymous donors.  The symposium focuses on the animals and performers that made the circus into such a spectacular and iconic form of entertainment in the United States. Brett Mizelle, “Contesting the Circus in American History: Animal Exhibitions and the Emergence of Animal Welfare,” historicizes debates over the legitimacy of the circus and charts the evolving relationship between the American public and animals over the course of the nineteenth century. Janet M. Davis, “Circus Queen in New York City: Flight, Spectacle, and the Fantastical Life of Tiny Kline,” uses the varied career of performer Tiny Kline to explore the world of popular amusements in the city during the early decades of the twentieth century. The symposium showcases the rich history and cultural legacy of the circus in New York City, and the two speakers will be joined by exhibition curator Matthew Wittmann, who will provide commentary.

The event is on Monday, October 15, 1:30pm-4:00pm. Be sure to RSVP if you’re interested in attending. All details available here.

In case you’d like to know more about the accompanying exhibition, the New York Times has a fabulous review, excerpted below:

Scholars of the arts in New York have long ignored the circus in favor of the city’s theatrical, musical and literary histories. But an ambitious new exhibition aims to fill that void. “Circus and the City: New York 1793-2010,” opening on Friday at the Bard Graduate Center Galleries, chronicles the rise, triumph and ultimate fragmentation of the circus through the lens of the city, making the case that the circus transformed entertainment, media and advertising and that the city itself played an important role in the evolution of the American circus.

“Circus has primarily been thought of as a global and national phenomenon,” said Matthew Wittmann, curator of the show. “But New York City was an incubator for circus since it first arrived in America.”

Dr. Davis is also on the advisory board for this exhibition and contributed an essay to The American Circus, published in conjunction with this event.

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