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Masterclass with Frances Tanzer (Clark University) – ‘Redemptive Modernism: Art, exile and the paradoxes of the nation state’ – 18 June 2024

Date: 18 June 2024
Time: 10:00 -13:00
Location: Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, C 1.17
Organizers: Gregor Langfeld and Natalie Scholz
Organizing institutions: National Research School for Art History, Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture

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Frances Tanzer’s recent scholarship attempts a revision of the postwar history of modernism and its reception. She has focused primarily on the exhibition and critical appraisal of Viennese modernism. Her work examines the exhibition of modernist artists in Nazi Vienna and among Jewish refugees in their many places of exile. Tanzer proposes that these contradictory projects reverberated in postwar Austria and contributed, in paradoxical ways, to a core dynamic of cultural reconstruction in postwar Europe: what she calls “redemptive modernism” – modernism’s new power to recast and redeem formerly Fascist countries as European and democratic. In this way, her work contributes to a discussion about the incorporation of modernism and modernist artists into a narrative of national culture, a shift from their prior status as revolutionary rabble rousers.

A second, related theme of Tanzer’s work is an examination of the crucial role of refugees and displaced peoples to the shaping of dominant and enduring images of modernism and urban culture. She alerts us to the extent to which national cultures as developed outside of the territorial boundaries of the state. Furthermore, following the cultural work of refugees reveals an important paradox: national cultures are often created by those who the state excludes from its selfconception. In addition to exploring these themes in the context of Vienna’s urban reconstruction, she has examined the question of statelessness at post-fascist Venice Biennale. A new project shifts her focus to the history of portraiture and/in displacement.

Frances Tanzer is the Rose Professor of Holocaust Studies and Jewish Culture at Clark University. She is a historian of modern Jewish culture, the Holocaust, and Modern Europe. Her book Vanishing Vienna: Philosemitism, Modernism, and Jews in a Postwar City is forthcoming with University of Pennsylvania Press. She has had articles published in the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook and Contemporary European History. In 2021, she received the Sosland Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is currently a fellow at the Remarque Institute at NYU.

The masterclass is open to all Ph.D. and (research) master students from various disciplines and research schools who are interested in aspects of Frances Tanzer’s work. Participants in the masterclass will have the opportunity to discuss some of Frances Tanzer’s work with her and relate it to their own ongoing research projects and questions. Readings will be made available in advance.

You are invited to sign up for the masterclass no later than June 7 via an e-mail addressed to both Gregor Langfeld ( and Natalie Scholz ( Please write a short comment on your interest and potential connection of the themes of the class with your own research. Let us also know if you are interested in presenting a reflection on your own research in the context of this masterclass.

If you are interested in receiving 1 or 2 ECs for your participation in this masterclass, please inform yourself about the expected formal requirements at your research school or research master program
and contact the two organizers in advance.