Julia Foulkes investigates interdisciplinary questions about the arts, urban studies, and history in her research and teaching. As a recent fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, she focused on her forthcoming book, Culture City: The Rise of the Arts in New York. Recent collaborations on this topic include historical notes for the jazz trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles on his commission San Juan Hill Story for the re-opening of Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center and a collaboration with the choreographer Netta Yerushalmy on a piece on Bob Fosse for Yerushalmy’s Paramodernities. She is also curating The Company: The Joffrey and Ballet in America, an exhibition scheduled to open at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in September 2024.
Professor Foulkes’s book A Place for Us: West Side Story and New York (2016) examined what this legendary musical and film reveal about mid-20th century New York. It provided a foundation for an exhibition she curated marking the 100th birthday of Jerome Robbins that focused on his relation to New York; the acclaimed Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York was on view at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center from September 2018 to March 2019. (A digital version of the exhibition can be found here.) She has been featured in numerous commentaries on West Side Story: a forthcoming French program on the ARTE channel, Invitation Au Voyage, that looks at New York City through the lens of the 1961 film; discussions of the legacy of Leonard Bernstein in a documentary for the ARTE channel in Germany and the BBC3 program Music Matters; a podcast for the Studio 360 series New York Icons; and the PBS American Masters documentary on Rita Moreno, Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. A recent essay on the intertwining of West Side Story and Lincoln Center appears on the Legacies of San Juan Hill website.
Professor Foulkes’s first book, Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey (2002), explores how gender, sexuality, race, and politics shaped the development of modern dance in the 1930s and ‘40s; her second book, To the City: Urban Photographs of the New Deal (2011), charts the spread of urbanization captured in photographs of the 1930s. She is also the editor of a journal volume on The Arts in Place (Journal of Social History, 2010) and co-editor with Aaron Shkuda of a section of essays on arts and urban development in the Journal of Urban History (2015).
With Mark Larrimore, Professor Foulkes also researches and teaches about the history of the New School, which celebrated its centenary in 2019. They oversee a website devoted to exploring the unusual history and far reach of this institution. A 2014 exhibition, with Radhika Subramaniam, Offense + Dissent: Image, Conflict, Belonging, investigated three episodes when art roused protest at the New School. The exhibition brought forward the issues to today in fifty responses from faculty, students, and staff to an artwork or aspect of design that they encounter at the university every day that provokes them. In fall 2018, they initiated a vertical on the history of the New School at Public Seminar, the virtual intellectual commons of the New School. They recorded a podcast series, New Histories, and published a digital collection of essays, Realizing The New School: Lessons From the Past. She delivered the Aims of Education address at the New School convocation in September 2009 and was a member of the university’s search committee for a new president in 2019.
Professor Foulkes has received numerous distinctions in addition to the Cullman Center fellowship including positions as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Rockefeller Archive Center, a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Potsdam University in Germany, Lecturer in the China Residency Program of the Organization of American Historians, and a Fellow and Senior Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. She was a fellow at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School where she explored the rise of cosmopolitanism and arts institutions such as Lincoln Center amidst urban development in the 20th century. She has also served as an adviser for arts organizations, such as First Person Arts; for the documentaries Free to Dance, Miss Hill, and Ailey; and worked with the Humanities Action Lab, an international hub where the humanities and design generate innovative curricula and public engagement on urgent social issues.
Professor of History
The New School
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foulkesj [at] newschool.edu