This week at Coney Island, the first ever "Congress for Curious People" brings together historians of science, artists, taxidermists, musicologists, and all manner of. . . curious people. It's part of the larger "Congress of Curious Peoples":
Every spring Coney Island USA convenes The Congress of Curious Peoples, a 10-day gathering of unique individuals at Sideshows by the Seashore and the Coney Island Museum, celebrating Coney Island's subversive and exciting power and exploring its political, artistic, and spectacular possibilities through performances, exhibitions, and films by important artists in the world of the 21st century sideshows.
Adding to the madness, this year, in conjunction with Observatory and the Morbid Anatomy Library, Coney Island USA introduces the Congress for Curious People. Consisting of a 2-day symposium and 5-day lecture series, this additional congress will take a scholarly yet popular approach to the curiosities and wonders of Coney Island and seek to investigate--via lectures and and a scholarly conference--the relationship between education and spectacle in American amusements, the collection of curiosities from the renaissance to the present, and the display of "freaks" and "primitive peoples" in fairgrounds and worlds fair settings. The series will celebrate the interdisciplinarity of Dime Museums while calling into question both popular and scholarly assumptions about the importance of Coney Island's legacy, its sordid past, and its titillating present.
More information about all the events via Morbid Anatomy.
Can't get out to Coney Island? Here's an unrelated event in NYC this Wednesday, sponsored by Columbia University Health Sciences Library:
WONDERS OF NATURE AND MIRACLES OF MEDICINE:
POPULARIZING SCIENCE IN LIFE MAGAZINE, 1936-1972
Dr. Bert Hansen, professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York, examines the role of LIFE magazine in shaping Americans' ideas of science in the mid-20th century. LIFE was one of the most popular magazines of its time; before television, only LIFE provided the general public with images that became so familiar they took on the status of icons. Using images from LIFE's extensive photo archives, Prof. Hansen describes how the magazine presented science with a humane, yet materialistic outlook in which natural wonders and medical miracles prompted viewers' awe, but with no suggestion of mystery, purpose, or spirituality.
A reception will follow. The lecture is free and open to the public.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2010, 6PM
RUSS BERRIE PAVILION, ROOM 1
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
1150 ST. NICHOLAS AVE. AT WEST 168TH ST.
NEW YORK, NY
Fyi. This is not the first Congress of Curious Peoples. Coney Island USA has done three or four now.
No, it's the first Congress FOR Curious Peoples. Note the distinction in the post. (I even italicized "for" - right before saying the Congress OF Curious Peoples takes place every spring).