Julia Foulkes investigates interdisciplinary questions about the arts, urban studies, and history in her research and teaching. Professor Foulkes’s most recent book, A Place for Us: West Side Story and New York (2016), examines what this legendary musical and film reveal about mid-20th century New York. She also curated an exhibition marking the 100th birthday of Jerome Robbins that focuses 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.) Her collaboration with the choreographer Netta Yerushalmy on a piece on Bob Fosse for Yerushalmy’s Paramodernities premiered at Jacob’s Pillow in August 2018 and at New York Live Arts in March 2019. She is currently researching the rise of New York as a “culture city” in the 20th century and will be a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2021-22.
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).
Professor Foulkes has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships 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, and the documentaries Free to Dance and Miss Hill. She was featured in a television documentary on West Side Story for the ARTE channel in Europe and on the BBC3 program, Music Matters, discussing the legacy of Leonard Bernstein. She appears in the new American Masters documentary on Rita Moreno, Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.
With Mark Larrimore, Professor Foulkes 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. A podcast series, New Histories, launched in fall 2019 and a digital collection of essays was published as Realizing The New School: Lessons From the Past in 2020.
Professor Foulkes has been a lead faculty member at the New School of the Humanities Action Lab, an international hub where the humanities and design generate innovative curricula and public engagement on urgent social issues. The first exhibition, States of Incarceration, examined the history of imprisonment in the U.S. She has also served as Coordinator of Prior Learning, Chair of Social Sciences, Co-Chair of Liberal Arts, Chair of Arts and Social Engagement, Chair of the University Faculty Grievance Committee, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs. 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 of History
The New School
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foulkesj [at] newschool.edu