Michael P. Steinberg, director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University, has been named vice provost for the arts.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Michael Steinberg, director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown, has been appointed the University’s vice provost for the arts. In this newly created position, Steinberg will oversee Brown’s growing arts initiative, leading the design and execution of strategies that will expand the University’s arts focus.

The announcement was made today by Provost Vicki Leigh Colvin in a letter to the Brown community. Steinberg will begin his new duties in January 2015; he will remain director of the Cogut Center for the balance of the academic year, through June 30.

“Brown has exceptional strength in the arts, grounded in five academic departments, buttressed by collaborations with a world-class school of design and a nationally renowned repertory theater, and recently invigorated by the construction of the Granoff Center, one of the most innovative facilities for the arts in all of higher education,” Colvin said. “Given Michael’s deep expertise as a scholar and academic leader, he is supremely qualified to lead Brown’s efforts to achieve even greater levels of distinction.”

This position was established to elevate the arts at Brown, as articulated in Building on Distinction, the University’s strategic plan. It will integrate the roles of the director of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts and chair of the Creative Arts Council when Richard Fishman’s term as director concludes on June 30, 2015. As vice provost for the arts, Steinberg will report to Colvin and serve as a member of the president’s cabinet.

Brown’s arts initiative will expand and enhance existing programs and will bring new projects in the creative and performing arts to campus. This enhanced set of arts activities will be integrated into the intellectual life of the University across the academic disciplines and will benefit from strategic partnerships with academic and cultural institutions around the world.

The initiative will also enable the construction and renovation of campus spaces for the performing and creative arts, an effort that is already in an early study phase. Last year, faculty and staff worked with an independent consulting group to carry out a needs assessment of the current performing arts programs at Brown. Among their findings was a recommendation to expand Brown’s performing arts facilities, including the construction of a new performance and production facility for music and dance and investment in the renovation of current spaces.

“The arts initiative has transformative potential for Brown, and I look forward enthusiastically to working with colleagues, students, and strategic academic and cultural partners both locally and globally,” Steinberg said. “As modes of both practice and knowledge, the arts have a place within the liberal arts-based university that is both fundamental and still largely untapped. Brown has the rigor and imagination to become a leader in an area that is both innovative and widely appreciated.”

Michael Steinberg

Steinberg, director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities, is the Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History, with further appointments as professor of music and professor of German studies.

Educated at Princeton University and the University of Chicago, he has been a visiting professor at both institutions as well as the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and National Tsing-hua University in Taiwan.

His main research interests include the cultural history of modern Germany and Austria with particular attention to German Jewish intellectual history and the cultural history of music. He has written and lectured widely on these topics for the New York Times and at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Bard Music Festival, and the Salzburg Festival.

Steinberg has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and has received the Berlin Prize from the American Academy, Berlin.

He is the author of studies of Hermann Broch, Aby Warburg, Walter Benjamin, and Charlotte Salomon. The German edition of his book Austria as Theater and Ideology: The Meaning of the Salzburg Festival (Cornell University Press, 2000) — Ursprung und Ideologie der Salzburger Festspiele (Anton Pustet Verlag, 2000) — won Austria’s Victor Adler Staatspreis in 2001. His book Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity, and 19th-Century Music, was published by Princeton University Press in early 2004, and Judaism Musical and Unmusical was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007.

Steinberg serves as associate editor of The Musical Quarterly and The Opera Quarterly. He is a director of the Barenboim-Said Foundation (U.S.A.), a member of the international advisory board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), and, between 2010 and 2013, was dramaturg to the new production of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, and the Berlin State Opera.

The arts at Brown

Brown University has a strong and growing reputation for its arts and humanities offerings and for integrating the arts across the disciplines. Brown students have combined research in the neurology of vision with studio experience in the visual arts; specialties in computer science with classes in animation at the Rhode Island School of Design; classes in modern dance with human physiology, leading to M.D. degrees at the Alpert Medical School; acoustical engineering with music.

Among the arts offerings and organizations at Brown are:

  • The Brown Orchestra, honored with seven ASCAP awards for adventurous programming;
  • The Brown Chorus, an ensemble that has performed locally and around the world;
  • The Brown Wind Symphony, which presented the premiere of Brownian Motion, a composition by Patrick Zimmerli commissioned for the University’s 250th anniversary;
  • More than 150 student groups dedicated to performing arts, from a cappella singing to jazz, dance, filmmaking, theater, poetry slams, comedy and improv, and more;
  • Programs in playwriting, with at least five alumni playwrights who have won Pulitzer prizes;
  • A formal academic collaboration and training program with Trinity Repertory Company, among the nation’s celebrated regional theater companies;
  • A partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design, facilitating cross-registrations and offering a five-year joint degree;
  • A University-wide program of art exhibits at the David Winton Bell Gallery, the Cohen Gallery in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, and student-curated shows at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, and other spaces in the libraries and various academic centers.