50th Anniversary

C21 is 50!

Center posters through the years

Center posters through the years

Founded in 1968 as the Center for 20th Century Studies, the Center for 21st Century Studies (C21) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

One of the first humanities research centers in the US, the Center has been at the forefront of many of the major developments in the interdisciplinary humanities for half a century. Its groundbreaking conferences over the years drew scholars and artists from all over the world into conversation and collaboration, including six international film conferences in the 1970s and 1980s that helped constitute film studies as an emergent discipline. More recently, C21 has focused on pressing questions concerning the political and ecological crises of the contemporary moment, with conferences and events examining nonhumans and extinction, animal-human relations, digital culture, the Anthropocene and climate change, debt, and the legacy of worldwide social movements since 1968.

Laure Anderson For Instants poster

Laurie Anderson

Today, as at its founding, C21 continues to nourish new forms of thinking in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The Center continues to bring in nationally and internationally recognized critics, writers, and artists for lectures, seminars, and workshops that serve the UWM community and the public at large. Guests of the Center over the years include artists Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins of Fluxus, Laurie Anderson, and John Cage; theorists Stuart Hall, Teresa de Lauretis, Jean Francois Lyotard, Judith Butler, and Jean Baudrillard; authors Anaïs Nin and Eugene Ionesco; filmmakers Isaac Julien and Frederick Wiseman…the list goes on and on.

Jacob's Room

Morton Subotnick (l) and Herbert Blau (r)



Through its conferences and events, as well as its annual Fellows program, the Center also fosters scholars in their early careers, helping to provide a crucible of scholarly exchange in which their work can develop and grow.


50th Anniversary Symposium

On Friday, October 26, 2018, C21 is hosting a one-day symposium. Current and former faculty, doctoral students, and directors will reflect upon and exemplify the Center’s intellectual history and legacy for humanities research today.

Speakers include Amelie Hastie (Amherst), Andreas Huyssen (Columbia), Tara McPherson (USC), Patricia Mellencamp (UWM), Gary Weissman (University of Cincinnati), and Kathleen Woodward (University of Washington).

Visit our events page to learn more.