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Issues in Arts Politics

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number ELEC-GG2680
Section 001
Instructor Jack Tchen
Days W
Time 12:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Units 4
Level G


Same as ASPP-GT 2001 and PERF– GT 2312. Open to Gallatin graduate students only.


This seminar aims to give students both a conceptual and practical grounding in the range of issues and approaches by which arts politics can be understood via the lens of NYC arts and cultural practices in the present and historically. We will think about the complexities that lie between the politics that make art and the politics that art makes—which is to say the array of forces that give rise to specific artistic practices and the agency and efficacy of artistic work. The course will be framed by the following considerations: What are the institutional, discursive, and ideological contexts that shape the objects, images, sounds or texts we call “art?” How can we actively decolonize content but also formal qualities? What are the links between cultural spaces -- the museum, the movie-theater, the gallery, the music/dance hall, the bookstore, the fashion runway, the public street, television, cyber space -- and the larger realm of politics? And how do these relationships impact, implicitly or explicitly, the ways we create, curate, study, or engage with the arts? How do consumers play an active role in the reception of artistic products and practices? What is the relation between formally promulgated cultural policy and the tacit knowledge that artists call upon to get their work into the world? How can the embodied, affective spirit of cultural practices challenge and balance entrenched power? What dimensions of the broader cultural terrain are made legible through artistic practice? What are the means through which art intervenes in the political arena? “Art” will be studied as a site of contested representations and visions, embedded in power formations -- themselves shaped by specific historical moments and geographical locations. Given contemporary global technologies, cultural practices will also be studied within the transnational “travel” of ideas and people. Such germane issues as the legal and constitutional dimensions of censorship, the social formation of taste, the consumption of stars, the bio-politics of the body, transnational copyrights law -- will all pass through an intersectional analyses of gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and nation, incorporating the insights of such areas of inquiry as decolonizing and dialogic methodologies, affect studies and embodied knowledges, queer studies, and strategizing interventions. Each session is organized around the exploration of a key question, with readings that develop conceptual and practical issues. You’ll also get to meet the Arts Politics community and through them we’ll visit key engaged spaces of the present-past/future in NYC. An approach of critical generosity and ethics of care will be cultivated.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Graduate Electives (ELEC-GG)