History of the Center

The Center for 21st Century Studies is one of the oldest humanities centers in the United States, founded in 1968 as the Center for 20th Century Studies. Since its inception, it has compiled a consistent record of hosting major events, including conferences, screenings, performances, and readings—often on topics and by participants whose importance was already clear, but just as often on topics and by participants whose importance would only strike the rest of the world later. When she spoke at UWM under the Center’s auspices in 1982, Grace Paley was already famous. When she performed at the Center in 1977, Laurie Anderson was not yet famous.

Below is a collection of highlights of the Center’s history, including visiting speakers, conferences, and other special events. We are striving to build our digital archive of the Center’s past, but please be aware that the lists below are far from complete. If you have anything to add or believe anything is incomplete we ask that you contact us.

1968: The Center’s Founding

1970s: Film, Performance, Language, and Technology

1980s: Feminism, Modernism, and Culture

1990s: Culture, Aesthetics, Aging, and Animals

2000s: War, Sovereignty, Gender, Space

2010s: The Digital, Nonhuman Turn, Anthropocene, Indigeneities

For more recent Center activity, you can browse through our Newsletter Archive (2002-11), our Annual Report Archive (2011-present), and our past conferences.