New Coffee Table Book Tells the Bold, Aspirational Story of an Iconoclastic and Unconventional University


New York, September 27, 2019 --Marking the centennial of one of the most iconoclastic, spirited, and unconventional universities in the United States, A Drama in Time: The New School Century (Profile Books, October 1, 2019) tells the bold, aspirational story of the birth of a new university guided by the progressive ideals of egalitarian, lifelong education. Written by novelist, poet, filmmaker, and New School faculty member John Reed, A Drama in Time weaves together the essential moments that built this historic institution and carried it forward for a century—in philosophy and the arts and subjects far afield from the inceptional course list of 1919.

Filled with cultural vignettes and supported by memorable archival images - including newly discovered photographs by Peter Moore and others - A Drama in Time brings to life the compelling told — and untold — stories that have shaped The New School for the past century.  

  • Radical origins in 1919 as a co-ed institution - the university’s first semester boasted enrollment of 70% women, 30% men - focused on continuing education rather than formalized programs
  • Visionary women including Hannah Arendt, Martha Graham, Clara Mayer, Frieda Wunderlich, Maria Piscator and others who expanded the boundaries of cultural and critical thinking  
  • University in Exile, a bulwark against brutal policies that undermined the independence of thought and research that led to the creation of the university’s first degree-granting programs
  • An advocate for academic and cultural freedom including the university’s opposition to loyalty oaths in the early 20th century and a later successful campaign opposing an obscenity clause required by National Endowment for the Arts 
  • The bold creators throughout the years who found a home at The New School, including W.E.B. DuBois, John Cage, Anatole Broyard, Ai Weiwei, Donna Karan, and so many others
  • A university of “firsts,” offering the first course in jazz history, the first international program by a U.S. university, one of the first classes in African-American studies, the first women’s history course, and the first psychoanalysis class, among many others

In his introduction to the book, Reed shares the challenges of crafting a single narrative of the university out of so many stories, noting “the internal journey of the school is what most concerned me, and for that reason, and the sake of keeping the present foremost, the stories are not told chronologically. My design is biographical, to stage a now-and-then tableau that renders The New School.” 

At this extraordinary moment in time, the story of The New School – its mission and values of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation – resonates clearly in the rapidly shifting and evolving 21st century. 

A Drama in Time: The New School Century
Author: John Reed, associate professor, The New School
Genre: Nonfiction
ISBN: 9781788162852
Publication Date: September 15, 2019
Hardcover, 240 fully illustrated pages, 12.25 x 8.75 in.
Price: $50
Publisher: Profile Editions
Available at The New Store and Amazon


Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.




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Media Contacts:

The New School
Merrie Snead
1 646 909-4684
[email protected]


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