2018-2019 Seminar: Classification

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From early modern commonplace books to tweets with hashtags, from the ritual markers of aristocratic degree to state statistics on race and ethnicity, from the divisions of trivium and quadrivium to the modern system of academic disciplines, practices of classification are where the organization of knowledge meets the organization of society. Long central to humanistic and social-scientific study, questions of classification have become newly salient as the digital remediation of the print record and the digital media of the present generate enormous quantities of information, most of it already organized in value-laden categories, for scholars to sort out.

The seminar, led by Meredith McGill and Andrew Goldstone, will meet approximately once every two weeks for three hours on Wednesday afternoons over the course of the 2018-19 academic year.  We will read and discuss scholarship related to classification, and members will circulate and present work-in-progress.  In addition, distinguished guests will visit the seminar to discuss current projects and share insights and expertise.


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Jennifer Lena - 10/24/18, 1:10-4:10pm, Academic Bldg West 6051

Professor Lena's research focuses on understanding processes of classification, particularly the organizational and institutional conditions for the creation, modification, or elimination of cultural categories. Recently, she has started to publish on related issues within the study of artistic identity, careers, and non-profit arts management.

She is the author of Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music (2012; paperback, 2014), which presents a sociological examination of musical genres, conceptualizing them not as collections of similar sounds, but as communities of shared practices.
Her second book, Entitled: Artistic Legitimation and the Democratization of Taste, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2019. Utilizing archival and historical methods, Lena explores how the legitimation process was harnessed to expand definitions of art (to include graffiti and comics, jazz and computer code), and why such a profound expansion of the arts happened in such a short period of time.


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