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Dr. Charissa N. Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies


Charissa N. Terranova will be publishing her next monograph, Biology in the British Bauhaus: Morphogenic Modernism in Art, Science, and Design, on Bloomsbury Press. Forthcoming in 2019, the book studies a culture of creative interaction across fields in twentieth-century Britain that began in the German Bauhaus during the 1920s. With the emigration of figures from the Bauhaus to London during the 1930s, a new field of creative action unfolded according to the logic of biological emergence. Emergent form, like embryos, takes shape through integrative levels, with greater complexity and unique form arising from lower levels but irreducible to them. The precepts of modern German design took hold among a group of embryologists, geneticists, crystallographers, and physicists creating a panoply of pioneering exhibitions, publications, laboratory experiments, and art and design projects across the twentieth century. Terranova shows how such collaborations created extraordinary outcomes in the arts, humanities, and sciences alike.

Forthcoming on Bloomsbury Press 2019, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Formsis an anthology coedited by Ellen K. Levy and Charissa N. Terranova about the Scottish zoologist-mathematician D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. With essays by fourteen international scholars of art, science, and design, the book situates Thompson within both scientific and cultural domains that are themselves interwoven. It pursues largely overlooked dimensions of evolutionary theory and form generation, including the roles of aesthetics, agency, and relationships of parts to wholes.



Charissa N. Terranova leads a dialogue between six internationally renowned scholars of modern and contemporary art history about artist and impresario György Kepes. Titled György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art, this gathering is open to the public and takes place 10 am – 12 pm Saturday October 13 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Audience participation is encouraged.

Kepes was a renaissance man and shapeshifter of modernism. A pioneer of new media art and heir of the Bauhaus, Kepes pushed modernist experimentalism into new realms. He incorporated science and technology as a means to rethink the avant-garde through cybernetics, both organic and mechanical. Prior to an almost thirty-year career as professor at MIT 1947-1974, he lived in North Texas, making lifelong connections here and leaving a trail of fascinating art and design projects. Join us and engage in a discussion about the life of Kepes, a second-generation Bauhaus figure, who spent a year in North Texas before embarking on his career at MIT. This event is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.



Charissa N. Terranova has been invited, along with Pomona College Professor of French Claire Nettleton, to give a talk at Being Human, a symposium in London sponsored by publishing house Palgrave-Macmillan and the University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy on Tuesday, November 20, 2018. Terranova and Nettleton will give a presentation titled Viral Culture: How CRISPR Gene-Editing and the Microbiome Transform Humanity and the Humanities.



Dr. Charissa N. Terranova is co-chairing with Pomona College Professor Claire Nettleton Culturing Bacteria: How Microbes Reconfigure Mind, Art, and the Humanities, a double panel of eight scholars at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts November 14-18, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. Scholars from the arts, humanities, and natural sciences will present work on the new materialist politics that has arrived in the form of microbiota. Scientific data about bacteria in the air, ocean, and on and in bodies of all living matter reveal that humans are ecologically integrated in a multiverse of humming life. Recent studies have shown that ratio between human and bacterial cells within the human body to be 1:1. We are thus as human as we are bacterial. This panel explores the ways in which bacteria are commensal to all life, recasting minds outside of bodies, art beyond the realm of the gallery, and the humanities in terms of the inhumanities.