MLS 489 – Special Topics in Sociology: ARTISTS IN CITIES
Mondays –Wednesday 4:20 – 5:50 pm
(Cross-listed with SOC 390/495)
Dr. Noreen Cornfield
In this course, students are simultaneously introduced to two fields: Sociology of Culture (especially the visual arts) and Dynamics of Urban Society. During “Chicago Artists Month” in October, hundreds of Chicago visual arts venues are open and free to the public. These events give students unique opportunities for first-hand field experience of urban communities and arts institutions. Field trips bring sociological concepts to life – including, among others: comparisons of urban neighborhoods in terms of cultural amenities; visual artists as an urban subculture; art as collaborative action; demographics of arts audiences (including discrepancies of race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status); reciprocal impact of the presence of artists in low-rent neighborhoods, and the process of gentrification; effects of de-industrialization and globalization upon cities and urban culture; how artists utilize vacant urban spaces; artist networks (social and professional) and the production of culture. Students engage in critical discussion of public policies regarding the arts; the role of arts institutions in promoting the vitality of cities; comparisons between mass media stereotypes of artists, and the actual lives of artists. Readings include a recent ethnography of Wicker Park, a Chicago neighborhood popular among students; a new study of ethnic visual art networks in Rogers Park, Bronzeville, and Pilsen; and other timely research reports.