MacArthur x BGC: What is Research?
With Campbell McGrath and Elizabeth Streb, moderated by BGC dean, Peter Miller

Research may well be the key word in our contemporary knowledge culture with global spending exceeding an estimated $1 trillion, and its importance acknowledged by governments, industry, and academia around the world. Yet, the idea of research, the practice of research, and the social life of research is not a subject of reflection. Of the 164 million items in the catalogue of the Library of Congress, only 43 fall into the category “Research—History.” To begin the task of understanding research, Bard Graduate Center has gathered a group of artists, scientists, and humanists—all MacArthur “Genius” Award winners—for three evenings of discussion. These conversations launch a project on research that will culminate in an exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in fall 2023. Other conversations in this series include:


Thursday, October 3, 6–8 pm
Biomedical researcher Elodie Ghedin, designer Mimi Lien, and photographer and filmmaker An-My Lê

Tuesday, November 5, 6–8 pm
Neuroscientist artist Tom Joyce, physicist Hideo Mabuchi, and neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg

There is no charge to attend the conversations, but space is limited, so please reserve your tickets in advance.

Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation



Meet the MacArthur Fellows
Campbell McGrath is a poet whose work is characterized by lyrical skill, intellectual breadth, and humor. McGrath’s most recent books are Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems (Ecco Press, 2019), and XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century, a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize. In it, as in his other work, he combines both a personal and an acute historical consciousness as he maps the social, cultural, and natural landscapes of America. His grand vision, raw energy, and keen ear for the subtleties of the modern condition, have led critics to compare him to Allen Ginsberg and William Carlos Williams. Though his work is a reflection of our age and society, McGrath has his own unique voice—an expansive prose poetry that accumulates images and metaphors through the use of symbols and tangible, everyday details. McGrath is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing and a professor of English at Florida International University. He is the author of Capitalism (1990), American Noise (1994), Spring Comes to Chicago (1996), Road Atlas (2001), Florida Poems (2002), and Pax Atomica (2004). His work has been published in such literary magazines as the Paris Review and the Kenyon Review. McGrath received a BA (1984) from the University of Chicago and an MFA (1988) from Columbia University.


MacArthur “Genius” Award winner Elizabeth Streb has dived through glass, allowed a ton of dirt to fall on her head, walked down (the outside of) London’s City Hall, and set herself on fire, among other feats of extreme action. Her popular book, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero, was made into a hit documentary, Born to Fly, directed by Catherine Gund (Aubin Pictures), which premiered at SXSW and received an extended run at Film Forum in New York City in 2014. Streb founded STREB EXTREME ACTION in 1979. In 2003, she established SLAM, the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. SLAM’s garage doors are always open: anyone and everyone can come in, watch rehearsals, take classes, and learn to fly. Streb has been a featured speaker presenting her keynote lectures at such places as TEDxMET, the Institute for Technology and Education (ISTE), POPTECH, the Institute of Contemporary Art (in conversation with physicist Brain Greene), Brooklyn Museum of Art (in conversation with author A.M. Homes), National Performing Arts Convention, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the University of Michigan, Chorus America, University of Utah, and as a Caroline Werner Gannett Project speaker in Rochester, NY, among others. Streb received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award in 1997. She holds a Master of Arts in humanities and social thought from New York University, a Bachelor of Science in modern dance from SUNY Brockport, and honorary doctorates from both SUNY Brockport and Rhode Island College. Streb has won numerous other awards and fellowships including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987; Brandeis Creative Arts Award in 1991; two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessie Awards) in 1988 and 1999 for her “sustained investigation of movement;” a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2013; and has received more than 30 years of ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 2009, Streb was the Danspace Project honoree. She served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and is a member of the boards of the Jerome and Camargo Foundations. Major commissions for choreography include Lincoln Center Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, MOCA, LA Temporary Contemporary, Whitney Museum of Art, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Park Avenue Armory, and London 2012, the Cultural Olympiad for the Summer Games.