February 27, 1948
The college hosted a national intercollegiate arts conference, gathering students, teachers and artists representing every fine art from across the country to discuss “The Creative Arts in Contemporary Society.” Panel discussions focused on the challenges of new artistic media, trends in literature and the arts, the creative process and the scope of public involvement in and understanding of the arts.
The American studies scholar and literary critic F.O. Matthiessen from Harvard gave the keynote address. The drama and dance panel included Irwin Shaw, playwright and novelist, and pioneering modern dancer Merce Cunningham. The panel on art and music included the social realist painter Ben Shahn and the composer, poet and philosopher John Cage. The poet, critic and former member of the Vassar English department, John Malcolm Brinnin, spoke on contemporary literary trends, and the Yale philosopher of theology, metaphysics and aesthetics, Paul Weiss, offered a summary and led the closing discussion.