Book Talk: Entitled, with Jennifer Lena

An in-depth look at how democratic values have widened the American arts scene, even as it remains elite and cosmopolitan

This event is open to all

Dec 16

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Russell Hall 306

Gottesman Libraries 3rd Floor

More Details:

"Two centuries ago, wealthy entrepreneurs founded the American cathedrals of culture―museums, theater companies, and symphony orchestras―to mirror European art. But today’s American arts scene has widened to embrace multitudes: photography, design, comics, graffiti, jazz, and many other forms of folk, vernacular, and popular culture. What led to this dramatic expansion? In Entitled, Jennifer Lena shows how organizational transformations in the American art world―amid a shifting political, economic, technological, and social landscape―made such change possible.

By chronicling the development of American art from its earliest days to the present, Lena demonstrates that while the American arts may be more open, they are still unequal. She examines key historical moments, such as the creation of the Museum of Primitive Art and the funneling of federal and state subsidies during the New Deal to support the production and display of culture. Charting the efforts to define American genres, styles, creators, and audiences, Lena looks at the ways democratic values helped legitimate folk, vernacular, and commercial art, which was viewed as nonelite. Yet, even as art lovers have acquired an appreciation for more diverse culture, they carefully select and curate works that reflect their cosmopolitan, elite, and moral tastes."

-- Book Description

Jennifer C. Lena is Associate Professor of Arts Administration, with Courtesy Appointment in Sociology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is Co-Editor of Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media, and the Arts and also of Culture and Economic Life book series (Stanford University Press). Lena earned her B.A. (1996) as a dual major in English and Sociology/Anthropology from Colgate University, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University (2003). She has worked at Vanderbilt University, Princeton University, Barnard College, the Berlin School of Creative Leadership (Steinbeis), and Columbia University. Her academic research focuses on classification systems, specifically the conditions that facilitate the proliferation or contraction of categories into which art works are sorted. Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music is her first book, and was published by Princeton University Press in early 2012. Her second book, Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts, was published September 3, 2019.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Arts and Humanities.

Please rsvp with your interest and details by Friday, December 12th.

Where: 306 Russell


To request disability-related accommodations contact OASID at, (212) 678-3689, or (646) 755-3144 video phone, as early as possible.

Last Updated: 2:45 pm, Friday, Nov 22 , 2019