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Amy Hughes Headshot

Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2017 – 2018 has been awarded to Amy Hughes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her dissertation Glass Dissent: Affective Politics in Communist Czechoslovakian Glassmaking, 1948 – 1989. The award carries a stipend of $20,000.

Ms. Hughes’ dissertation examines the techniques and discourses of Czech glass and its historical positioning as both modern art and a vehicle for dissidence in the Czech Republic.

Because postwar Czechoslovakian glass was considered a merely a decorative and functional medium warranting less Communist censorship than other art media, glass thrived as a political, expressive and abstract art form. In her dissertation, Ms. Hughes examines this intersection between political dissent and modernist expression in postwar, large-scale Czechoslovakian glass sculptures. Building on Central European concepts of dissent both as the effort to open spaces for critical thinking and as a less ideologically-obvious way of releasing the driving force of resistant affect, as well as on theoretical texts on materiality and affect, Hughes argues that these concepts of dissent were manifested in the objects themselves, in the often-public process of glassmaking and in the affective responses the work generated.

By expanding understanding of what constitutes the political work of avant-garde modernism, Hughes’ research furthers current efforts to transform modernist art history’s critical geography by problematizing core tenets of discourse on modernism: namely, medium specificity, the role of content and the prioritization of Western geographical centers of modernism.