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Modern art, media pedagogy and cultural citizenship: The Museum of Modern Art's television project, 1952–1955

, McGill University , Canada

McGill University . Awarded


The Museum of Modern Art's television project sponsored by the Rockefeller Brother's Fund between 1952 and 1955 was designed to educate a democratic and cultured citizenry through the principles and practices of modern art and liberal humanism. Through a close reading of four television programs, related policy documents and exhibitions, as well as critical, educational and promotional literature, this study will show how within the context of the MoMA's mandate and history, the television project was a decisive, yet highly troubled attempt to forge cultural citizenship through the burgeoning media of modern art and television. This exploration will establish how the television project was an integral aspect of the MoMA's efforts since World War II to situate modern art as essential to the formation of an international polity shaped around the promise of universality, yet dependent on upholding the primacy of free and creative individuals. In addressing such a challenge, this dissertation will contend that television was not necessarily antithetical to modernism, rather it was just one among an array of struggling forces falling within the rubric of the modern. Moreover, this analysis will consider the importance of culture in logics of liberal governance. In order to elucidate the dimensions of cultural democracy as they emerged through the MoMA's television project, this study will be shaped around a discussion of three components crucial to the formation and maintenance of citizenly conduct—civic education, democratic cultural communications, and cross-cultural governance. To these ends, a range of sources from the disciplines of Communications, Cultural Studies and Critical Artistic Studies will be drawn on in order to investigate the provisional links forged between modern art, media pedagogy, and cultural citizenship in the Cold War period.


Shaw, N.A. Modern art, media pedagogy and cultural citizenship: The Museum of Modern Art's television project, 1952–1955. Ph.D. thesis, McGill University. Retrieved August 3, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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