Art & Public Culture in Chicago

An NEH Summer Institute for College and University Faculty

At the Newberry Library

June 11-June 29, 2018

Led by Liesl Olson (Director of Chicago Studies, Newberry Library), Rebecca Zorach (Professor of Art History, Northwestern University), and Chad Heap (Associate Professor of American Studies, George Washington University), Art and Public Culture in Chicago will look closely at the arts, their reception, and their civic import in Chicago from the 1893 World’s Fair through the present moment. We are particularly interested in artistic communities, small-scale venues, and vernacular expressions that developed against or alongside Chicago’s mainstream cultural institutions—especially those that took shape in the city’s African American neighborhoods. The setting of Art and Public Culture in Chicago will provide participants with a coherent case study, a wealth of resources, and the opportunity to experience the actual institutions, places, and neighborhoods of our program of study. We also aim to underscore connections between Chicago and other American cities, and we welcome teachers and scholars with an interest in urban spaces, art, and public culture more broadly.  This institute contributes to the NEH’s recent initiative, “The Common Good,” by inviting participants to reflect more broadly on the role of the arts and the humanities in the public sphere. The ultimate aim is to understand the challenges to public culture now by looking through a deeply historical lens.

The institute will be led by experts in art history, literature, American studies, African American studies, and creative arts, including guest faculty Adam Green (University of Chicago), Davarian Baldwin (Trinity College), and Nicole Marroquin (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Participants will also engage with a rich array of primary sources in the Newberry’s collection.

The Newberry Library

Newberry Building 3
The Newberry Library

Open to the public without charge, the Newberry is an independent research library dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, especially in the humanities. The Newberry acquires and preserves a broad array of special collections research materials relating to the civilizations of Europe and the Americas. It promotes and provides for their effective use, fostering research, teaching, publication, and life-long learning, as well as civic engagement.  In service to its diverse community, the Newberry encourages intellectual pursuits in an atmosphere of free inquiry, and sustains the highest standards of collection preservation, bibliographic access, and reader services.