Salmagundi Presents: On Taste: From Politics to the Arts & Culture

The interior of the Tang, featuring the Atrium and interior staircase; light streams in through the window and the angular architecture of the building is clear.

Salmagundi, the international quarterly magazine of politics, culture, literature, and the arts published at Skidmore College, presents the day-long symposium On Taste: From Politics to the Arts & Culture: a Day of Debate and Conversation on October 27. Join us for a series of discussions—Bad Taste, Good Taste, No Taste?—featuring several of the leading writers and thinkers in the country, including Ian Buruma, Michael Gorra, Tom Healy, Rochelle Gurstein, and Skidmore English Department faculty Barbara Black, Robert Boyers and others.

The event is free and open to the public.

Session I: 10:30 am

Session II: 2:15 pm

Session III: 4:30 pm

About the Speakers

Ian Buruma is a winner of many international awards, including the 2008 Erasmus Prize and the 2012 Abraham Kuyper Prize at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his book Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh & The Limits of Tolerance, and the PEN Diamondstein Award in Non-fiction for his book Theatre of Cruelty. His many other books include Taming the Gods and The Churchill Complex. He is a professor of Humanities and Journalism at Bard College. In 2010, Foreign Policy Magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers.

James Miller is Professor of Politics and Liberal Studies, and Faculty Director of the MA in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at The New School for Social Research. Author of many books, including Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll (winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Ralph Gleason BMI Award for the best music book of 1999), The Passion of Michel Foucault (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), Democracy is in the Streets, Rousseau: Dreamer of Democracy, Can Democracy Work?, and a forthcoming book on the films of Pedro Almodovar.

Rochelle Gurstein is the author of The Repeal of Reticence: A History of America’s Cultural and Legal Struggles over Free Speech, Obscenity, Sexual Liberation & Modern Art and of a forthcoming book called Written in Water: The Classic and Its Afterlife, to be published later this year by Yale University Press. A frequent contributor to Salmagundi, Raritan, and other periodicals, she was formerly a regular online columnist for The New Republic.

Tom Healy is the author of several books of poems, including What The Right Hand Knows (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in Poetry), Animal Spirits, and Velvet. Healy served three terms as Chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board during the Presidency of Barack Obama. After the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 he served as President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In 2006 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded him the Mayors Award for Arts and Culture. In 2018 he created the Curators Culture Series at the Bass Museum in Miami. He has taught creative writing at NYU and at The New School and is often a visiting writer at The New York State Summer Writers Institute.

Michael Gorra is Jordan Professor at Smith College and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. His books include After Empire, The English Novel at Mid-Century, The Bells in Their Silence, and a recent critical biography of William Faulkner. He won the Balakian Award from the National Book Critics Circle for his work as a reviewer.

Celeste Marcus is the Managing Editor of Liberties Magazine and the author of a regular quarterly feature for that publication. Her recent essays include “Priorism, or the Joshua Katz Affair at Princeton” (in Liberties) and a memoiristic essay called “A Thousand Gentle Smotherings” (in Salmagundi). She is writing a biography of the painter Chaim Soutine.

Thomas S.W. Lewis is a Professor Emeritus of English at Skidmore College and Associate Editor of Salmagundi Magazine. Author of several books, including Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio; The Hudson: A History; Divided Highways: The Interstate Highway System & The Transformation of American Life. Lewis was a scriptwriter and/ or consultant for several PBS series made by Ken Burns and Rik Burns, including the series The Civil War and Baseball.

Barbara Black is a Tisch Professor of Arts and Letters at Skidmore College and author of three books: On Exhibit: Victorians & Their Museums (2000), A Room of His Own (2012), and Hotel London (2019). In 2020 she co-edited and introduced Olive Schreiner’s Dreams.

Terence Diggory is a Professor Emeritus of English at Skidmore College and a frequent contributor to Salmagundi and other magazines. He is the author of the books: William Carlos Williams & The Ethics of Painting; Yeats & American Poetry; Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets; and Grace Hartigan: A Survey.

Peg Boyers is Executive Editor of Salmagundi Magazine and on faculty in the English Department at Skidmore. Her books of poetry include Hard Bread (2002), Honey With Tobacco (2007) and To Forget Venice (2015), all published by the University of Chicago Press. Her most recent book is Album (2021), a volume of ekphrastic poems.

Robert Boyers is a professor of English at Skidmore, founder and Editor of Salmagundi Magazine, and Director of The New York State Summer Writers Institute. A frequent contributor to such magazines as The Nation, Harper’s, The New Republic, The American Scholar, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other periodicals, he is the author of a dozen books, most recently The Fate of Ideas (2015), The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy and the Hunt for Political Heresies (2019), and Maestros & Monsters: Days and Nights with Susan Sontag & George Steiner (September 2023).

NOTE: The original announcements for this conference included Margo Jefferson as one of the speakers, but she has had to cancel her appearance. She will contribute an essay on TASTE to the fall 2024 issue of Salmagundi Magazine built around the conference transcript.

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