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Stephen Duncombe

Stephen Duncombe

B.A. Sociology, SUNY Purchase, 1988
M.Phil. Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, 1993
Ph.D. Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, 1996

Stephen Duncombe’s interests lie in media and cultural studies. He teaches and writes on the history of mass and alternative media and the intersection of culture and politics. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy (The New Press, 2007) and Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture  (Verso, 1997)   co-author, along with Andrew Mattson, of The Bobbed Haired Bandit: Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York  (New York University Press, 2006), editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader  (Verso, 2002) , co-editor, along with Maxwell Tremblay, of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race  (Verso, 2011), and writes on the intersection of culture and politics for a range of scholarly and popular publications. Duncombe is also the creator of Open Utopia , an open-access, open-source, web-based edition of Thomas More’s Utopia. In 1998, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by the State University of New York, where he taught before coming to New York University, and in 2012 was awarded the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching at Gallatin. In support of his forthcoming work Democratic Persuasion: Art, Culture and Communications of the New Deal,  he was awarded a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend. He was also awarded a 2015 project grant from the Health Media Initiative, Open Society Foundations, for the School for Creative Activism/Europe and Africa. Duncombe, a life-long political activist, co-founded the School for Creative Activism in 2011, and is presently co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism.


With Steve Lambert, Professor Duncombe had the chapter "The Art of Activism," published in Truth is Concrete: A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics (Sternberg Press, 2014). He was an invited respondent to the 2014 Brecht Forum launch for “Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power,” in Brooklyn, NY. He participated in the panel discussion “Designing Free Speech,” for the Cities and Citizenship conference held at NYU in March 2014. Professor Duncombe delivered his talk “Punk Aesthetics and DIY Design,” at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in April 2014. He delivered "Fear of Art's Activism," at the conference Fear of Art, the 32nd Social Research, New School, New York, on February 12, 2015. He delivered "The Art of Policy," at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2015. He delivered "A New Approach to an Old Book: Open Utopia," at Digital U: The University in the Digital Age, held at William Patterson University, New Jersey, on October 29, 2014. Along with Brett Davidson and Steve Lambert, he delivered "Making the Impossible Possible," at the 2014 Communication Matters, Communications Network Conference, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 9, 2014. He served as a panelist for "Arts and Activism: A History of the Future," held at the Palitz Gallery, Syracuse University's Lubin House, New York, January 14, 2015.

He served as a visiting professor in the Department of Society and Globalization of Roskilde University, in Denmark, Spring-Summer 2014. He led the January 2014 weekend workshop for Portland State University’s MFA students in Art and Social Practice in Portland, OR. He taught "Art, Culture and Social Movements" as part of the Saturday Academy at the New York Historical Society, New York, New York, on November 22, 2014. Through the Center for Artistic Activism, Professor Duncombe worked with Russian activist artists in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 2-6, 2014. He also, through the Center for Artistic Activism, worked with Access to Medicine activists from around the globe in Barcelona, Spain, December 15-18, 2014. Professor Duncombe, through the Center for Artistic Activism, worked with Sex Work Decriminalization activists from Southern Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, May 30-April 2, 2015.


Contact Information

Stephen Duncombe

1 Wash Pl, Room 602
(212) 998-7327
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Office Hours
Monday (1-3:30 by appt)
Tuesday (4-6 by appt)
Wednesday (1-3:30 by appt)

Research and Teaching Interests

media and cultural studies; history of mass media; activist media and alternative culture; arts and politics

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New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
1 Washington Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 998-7370