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"Count Richard Cándida Smith among the best of those scholars doing transnational history. Improvised Continent is a brilliant investigation of U.S. and Latin American intellectuals and artists who formed networks that the United States used for its cultural diplomacy. But as Cándida Smith deftly shows, there was an irony in cultural imperialism, as these intellectuals and artists served not only to teach U.S. audiences about the rest of the Americas. They also served as critics of American society and offered up a distinctly robust liberalism rooted in the utopia of pan-Americanism."

      —Andrew Hartman, author of A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars

"Poets, painters, policymakers, and others wrestle over pan-American hopes and disappointments in Richard Cándida Smith's illuminating and thoughtful work. Spanning the twentieth century, and ranging across diverse sources in four languages, Improvised Continent brings new cultural and intellectual depth to the history of Latin American and U.S. relations."

         —Brooke L. Blower, Boston University


Richard Cándida Smith is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published seven books and over forty essays in publications from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Britain. His work has explored arts and literary networks, movements, and institutions in the United States, with an emphasis on international connections and exchange.  Long active in oral history, for the last six years he has been working with Voices of Contemporary Art offering two-day workshops on the artist interview.  He sits on several editorial boards and committees.  He has been helping organize U.S. participation in the Transatlantic Cultures: Cultural Histories of the Atlantic World 18th-21st Centuries (, an international project under the direction of historians from France and Brazil bringing together scholars from every part of the world.  He is a contributor to Painted Poetry & Painterly Poetics, an Ekphrastic Notion, an interdisciplinary,  international project based in the Netherlands exploring the poetics of text and image ( 

My Books

Improvised Continent:

Pan-Americanism and Cultural Exchange

Mallarmé's Children: 

Symbolism and the Renewal of Experience

Elizabeth Cady Stanton 

Feminist as Thinker:

A Reader in Essays and Documents

The Modern Moves West: California Artists and Democratic Culture in the Twentieth Century

Utopia and Dissent:

Art, Poetry, and Politics

in California

Circuitos de Subjectividade:

História Oral,

o Acervo e as Artes

Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection (hardcover ed., Routledge)

Text and Image: Art and the Performance of Memory (paperback ed., Transition)

My Books
Anchor 1

Review of Utopia and Dissent

This is a book to seek out, if one is at all interested in contemporary art and poetry, in the history of the counterculture, or in the origins of today's culture wars.

                         —J. F. Roche, Choice

Praise for The Modern Moves West
This is a voyage into a corner of contemporary art seldom visited. Richard Cándida Smith explores this arena by focusing on three main artists: Simon Rodia, Jay DeFeo, and Noah Purifoy, among others.  Through their unique and diverse vision we begin to see a rich and thought-provoking debate that is central to the history of California culture.
                          Ed Ruscha
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