McKayla Sluga

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Brief Bio: 

I am a second-year Ph.D. student with an interest in twentieth-century American radical and extremist movements of both the Left and Right, particularly how avant-garde and modernist art and film have been used to project messages within social-political movements. My work also explores relationships between “high” and “popular” culture as well as how urban intellectuals have engaged with culture, society, and politics.

In a broad thematic sense, my research investigates intersections among cultural, social, political, and intellectual movements during the late nineteenth-twentieth century. Geographically, I focus on radicalism in the United States, but am interested in transnational connections and conflicts between radical movements in the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union. My dissertation will explore the roles of cultural brokers, infrastructures, and institutions in negotiating American modernism as well as connections across avant-garde film and art distribution-exhibition networks in urban spaces.

I double majored in History and American Studies and minored in Philosophy at Elmira College, where I earned my B.A. with Summa Cum Laude Latin Honors and completed the Honors Program. I was also a 2017 Gilder Lehrman American History Honors Scholar Award recipient. My research projects have focused on the relationship between radical social-political movements and radical artistic-intellectual movements of both the United States and Europe. Some examples include US Leftism/Marxism and Social Surrealism of the 1930s; Italian Fascism and Futurism; German Nazism and Modernism; Situationist International theory and Atelier Populaire poster art during the 1968 French uprisings; the 1960s-1970s Black Power and Black Arts Movements; and Afro-Cuban/Martiniquean Marxism and Surrealism. My current projects are interested in how radical/avant-garde visual culture from Europe and the Soviet Union have influenced how American intellectuals understand and construct national identity through art and criticism during the 1920s and 1930s.

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