Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles: Symposium Explores Legacy of German Artists & Intellectuals

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/27/13

This week, the Legatum Institute and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study at the USC Libraries present Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity in a New Cultural Frontier.

The three-day symposium explores the legacy of German artists and intellectuals who fled Europe for the sanctuary of Los Angeles in the years before and during World War II. Twenty core participants, selected through a competitive process open to students and accomplished young professionals, will explore issues of liberty and responsibility, creativity and commerce through the lens of history, focusing on the experiences of filmmaker Billy Wilder, author Thomas Mann, and composer Arnold Schoenberg. 

Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles takes place August 28-30 on the USC University Park Campus and at Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades. A summary of the program is available here on the Legatum Institute website. Follow along with the participants' discoveries—and join the conversation—with the Twitter hashtag #WeimarLA.

To learn more about the symposium, read the press release below:

August 26, 2013

USC Libraries and Legatum Institute Present Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity in a New Cultural Frontier

London based think-tank and USC Sidney Harman Academy explore the legacy of German intellectuals and lessons for innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The Legatum Institute (LI) and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study at the USC Libraries have partnered to present Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles, a 3-day symposium that explores issues of liberty and responsibility, creativity and commerce, through the life and work of German creatives who made their home in Southern California before and during World War II. Einstein, Brecht, Billy Wilder, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schoenberg and others exerted incomparable influence on the creative scene of the time.

The first-of-its-kind program includes academics, artists, policy experts, and business leaders, who will guide participants through an exploration of European political heritage and interwar Los Angeles as a cultural and economic center. Participants will include young professionals, USC students and renowned faculty, as well as distinguished guest speakers, such as Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. 

This partnership between LI and USC Sidney Harman Academy stems from a shared belief in an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to research, discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. The forum, panels, intimate discussions, and performances will investigate creativity and entrepreneurship, how Weimar-era aesthetics and philosophy have informed contemporary public policy, and how a complex moment in 20th-century history has shaped 21st-century innovations in business, art, film, and literature.

“I am proud and excited to collaborate with the Legatum Institute in creating this experience for our students, our university, and the city of Los Angeles,” said Catherine Quinlan, dean of the USC Libraries. “Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles draws upon our libraries' expertise and collections strengths in exile studies to support a unique model of in-depth, interdisciplinary inquiry. The entire program embodies the USC Sidney Harman Academy’s polymathic ideals, the libraries’ essential role in discoveries of consequence, and USC's role as a vital resource for understanding the past and future of Los Angeles.”

Among other topics, individual sessions will examine the role of cultural minorities in a free society through the lens of Billy Wilder; how the music of Arnold Schoenberg embodies the Modernist aesthetic and relates to political expression; what was it about the United States that allowed entrepreneurship to flourish, and why preeminent Weimar artists eschewed established cultural centers of the United States’ East Coast for the relatively undeveloped intellectual landscape of Southern California.

Jeffrey Gedmin, CEO and president of the Legatum Institute said, “The Weimar Exiles in L.A. program is a part of our institute’s Global Leadership Forum, which brings together young, gifted professionals and a world-class faculty to discuss today’s global economic and political issues through a prism of history, culture, politics and science. The Institute aims to create an environment in which people are set free to discuss and debate without the need to rush to simple answers and formulas but to step back and gain fresh perspective on current global policy issues and better prepare for the future. The USC Sydney Harman Academy’s and the USC Libraries’ shared commitment to interdisciplinary studies makes them the perfect partners for our work in this area.”

USC and the Legatum Institute selected 20 core participants through a competitive process open to undergraduates, graduate students, and accomplished young professionals with an intellectual curiosity in the period and its continuing influence on contemporary times.

Weimar Exiles in Los Angeles will take place August 28-30 on the USC University Park Campus and at Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades. The complete program, including sessions and performances that are open to the public with an RSVP, is available at polymathic.usc.edu.

About the Legatum Institute
Based in London, the Legatum Institute is an independent, non-partisan public policy organization whose research, publications, and programs advance ideas and policies in support of free and prosperous societies around the world. The Legatum Prosperity Index™, is LI’s signature annual publication. It is a unique global assessment of national prosperity based on both wealth and wellbeing.

About the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study at the USC Libraries
The USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study offers a series of intellectual, intimate, and investigative encounters that intensify polymathic discovery among faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates. Four quadrants of polymathic inquiry—critical and integrative thinking, study of the great polymaths, the tapestry of interconnected knowledge, and persuasive communication—anchor and guide the academy’s programs.

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