Fulbright Visiting Professor in Leiden: Kenneth Marcus

Prof. Kenneth Marcus, professor of American history at the University of La Verne in California, will teach two courses in American Studies at Leiden University in the spring of 2013. In the MA programme he will teach a course on the influence of German and Mexican refugees on the culture and music of southern California in the 1930s and 1940s.


Professor Kenneth Marcus

Professor Kenneth Marcus

Fact. Los Angeles has developed from a modest, primitive settlement to a trend-setting metropolis for entertainment and commerce, with all the positive and negative elements that accompany such growth.  

Fact. In the first half of the last century Mexico, Germany and Austria were all dictatorships (Mexico from 1924 to 1935, and Germany and Austria from 1935 to 1945). In both these periods, many writers, musicians and artists fled to southern California, bringing aspects of their culture with them. 

Two courses

Prof. Kenneth Marcus will be the 2013 Fulbright Visiting Professor in American Studies in Leiden. He has carried out research on the roots of the culture of Southern California, focusing in particular on Los Angeles. This research took him also to Mexico and Europe. He, more than anyone else, has managed to uncover the influence of these regions on the culture and the music of 'his' city. He is therefore ideally placed to teach courses in the BA minor in American Studies and in the MA programme in North American Studies. 

Los Angeles: Study of a City

In this BA course Marcus will outline the development of Los Angeles. Influenced by border wars, immigration, reform movements, revolts and demographic changes, Los Angeles seems to reinvent itself with every new generation. Yet at the same time, much remains the same. The lectures will cover the society, culture and politics of Los Angeles in the light of change and continuity. The focus will be on music and film, and Marcus will place developments in a national and transnational context.

Exiles and Modernism: European and Mexican Emigré Writers and Artists in Southern California

In this MA course Marcus will address the complex interactions between European and Mexican refugees, and between American culture and the modernist movement. The course will review the work of many refugees, from the Mexican wall artists David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco, writers Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Franz Werfel, philosophers Theodor Adorno and Hans Horkheimer, composers Arnold Schönberg and Hanns Eisler, and film-makers Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder. All these were at times forced to adopt a hybrid identity. Key themes in the course are art and politics, modernism and mass culture, and culture and violence. 

(15 May 2012)


Study in Leiden

Last Modified: 19-08-2013