September 11, 2019

Seth Brodsky Named Director of University of Chicago's Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—The University of Chicago announced that Seth Brodsky, an associate professor of music and the humanities, will become the next director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, which supports experimental collaborations between artists and scholars. Brodsky has served as interim director since July 2018. He succeeds cinema and media studies scholar Jacqueline Stewart.

“In the verve of his scholarship, the inventiveness of his teaching, and the extraordinary range of his interests, Seth embodies the searching spirit of the Gray Center,” said David Levin, a senior advisor to the provost for arts. “He is an ideal director, since his curiosity is as boundless as his energy, and his penchant for experimentation is as vibrant as his intelligence.”

Brodsky joined the university from Yale in 2011 and has served on the center’s advisory council since its inception eight years ago. A scholar of twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, philosophy, and critical theory, among other topics, he is the author of From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious (University of California Press, 2017), which received the Lewis Lockwood Award by the American Musicological Society in 2018.

Commenting on the center’s work, Brodsky said: “Probably my favorite aspect of the Gray Center is that I still can’t get to the bottom of what we do. The work of our fellows remains oriented around a kind of not-knowing, around reminding each other how, as professional and practiced knowers, it is still possible to not-know. Collaboration becomes a way of propping open the back door of expertise and letting some of it escape. As easy as it sounds, it’s quite an alien practice. It touches a nerve.”

For the 2019–20 academic year, the center will host art historian Romi Crawford, artist Theaster Gates, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights executive director Susan Gzesh, artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Smart Museum curator Abigail Winograd as fellows, as well as collaborations between historian and theorist W. J. T. Mitchell, art historian Hannah B. Higgins, and artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan and between anthropologist Stephan Palmié and artist Miralda.

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