The Culture of Experience: Pragmatism and Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature
This conference investigates the wide cultural and aesthetic reach of pragmatist thought in the early twentieth century. From the experimental art practices at Black Mountain College to social scientific techniques in the New Negro Movement, from the formation of the “history of ideas” and literary studies as academic disciplines to modernist poetic practice and the social thought of W. E. B. Du Bois, pragmatism played a profound yet understudied role in the styles and institutions of U.S. culture. Using the rubric of the “culture of experience,” we hope to expand the understanding of what pragmatism was—as a philosophy, as a set of cultural tendencies, as a network of institutions and people—and how it helped to define the production and reception of modern U.S. literature.