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A Scholarly Agenda for the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts

The Allen Committee emphasized Princeton University’s distinctive opportunity to integrate the arts with its tradition of world-class scholarship and learning in the humanities, and proposed that Princeton achieve that goal by establishing a new, collaborative scholarly research program for its faculty. The committee proposed a new venue for innovative work that cuts across the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences as well as the Schools of Engineering and Architecture. It proposed bringing together faculty, graduate students, and visiting fellows from several disciplines and encouraging them to collaborate on research, teaching, and artistic enterprises.

I concur wholeheartedly with this recommendation. Scholarly activity in the creative and performing arts should be a core feature of the Center. Since much scholarship in the humanities focuses upon the study of works of art of all kinds, the Center’s scholarly program should be a joint venture with the Council for the Humanities. Jointly sponsored research programs and intellectual events will form an important bridge between the Council and the Center, thereby sustaining the connections between the humanities and the arts that have flourished in the past under the Council’s leadership.

This cooperative venture would bring together faculty, artists, graduate students, and visiting fellows. Together, the Council and the Center could sponsor a series of ongoing seminars and colloquia that would provide a venue for the presentation and critical assessment of new research relevant to the creative and performing arts. As part of this enterprise, the Council and the Center together could support Princeton graduate students whose dissertations relate to the creative and performing arts. More specifically, I believe that the Council and the Center should appoint several graduate students as Graduate Fellows each year; these Fellows, in addition to receiving support, would participate regularly in seminars and colloquia devoted to the creative and performing arts. The Center and the Council could also develop a Visiting Fellows program patterned upon the successful models of the University Center for Human Values and the History Department’s Davis Center. I envision that these fellows would be leading junior and senior faculty from other institutions around the world as well as independent artists and critics who wish to devote some time to scholarship and research. Together with the Graduate Fellows and the faculties of the Council and the Center, they would help to catalyze scholarly discourse and collaboration regarding the arts at Princeton.

I am confident that these programs will quickly make the Center one of the world’s leading venues for scholarly research and criticism in the arts. Moreover, they will reinforce the strong affinities between the humanities and the arts at Princeton, and their influence upon the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts will ensure that Princeton’s initiative in the arts remains true to the University’s core values, which require a commitment to first-rate teaching and research.

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Photo credit: Denise Applewhite

The Princeton Laptop Orchestra was established as a freshman seminar to explore ways in which the computer can be integrated into conventional music-making contexts while also radically transforming them. The course was led by Daniel Trueman, assistant professor of music (shown above), and Perry Cook, associate professor of computer science. Photo Credit: Denise Applewhite

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