Arts + Public Life
The mission of Arts + Public Life is to foster collaboration and conversation between the University and civic, cultural and artistic communities of Chicago with a focus on the South Side. It fosters partnerships between artists and cultural institutions, the South Side, and the University so that combined artistic assets can serve as creative catalysts for urban transformation. As a neighborhood platform for arts and culture in Washington Park, APL provides residencies for Black and Brown artists and creative entrepreneurs, arts education for youth, and artist-led programming and exhibitions.
APL partners across the University with a wide range of departments and initiatives including the Logan Center for the Arts, the Department of Visual Arts, Center for Politics, Race and Culture, and the Department of Art History.
Arts, Science, and Culture Initiative
The Arts, Science + Culture Initiative cultivates collaboration, active exchange, and sustained dialogue among those engaged in artistic and scientific inquiry within the university and beyond. The Initiative provides opportunities for scholars, students, and arts practitioners, in multiple domains, to pursue original investigations and explore new modes of artistic production and scientific inquiry. Breaking intellectual ground often requires transcending disciplinary boundaries and venturing into unfamiliar territory. To that effect, the Initiative’s programs are designed to spark conversations and critically engage faculty, students and the public across a broad spectrum of areas including art history, astronomy and astrophysics, biology, chemistry, cinema and media studies, computer and information science, creative writing, literature, mathematics, medicine, music, molecular engineering, physics, theater, and visual arts. Two specific yearly opportunities for graduate students are: Graduate Collaboration Grant Program and the Graduate Fellows Program.
Center for Global Ancient Art
The Center for Global Ancient Art was founded in 2009, and it explores two developments in recent scholarship: an increasing tendency amongst art historians to study archaeological materials, and a corresponding tendency amongst archaeologists to move beyond functionalism into “art-historical” topics like beholding, iconography, media, phenomenology, stylistics, and aesthetics.
Ancient is defined in procedural terms: wherever it is from, whenever it was made, art is “ancient” if our knowledge of it derives to a significant degree from archaeological data: stratigraphic, archaeometric, typological/stylistic, even quantitative. Antiquity is, in short, a function of method. Because these methods apply to a broad range of regions and corpora, this definition makes it possible to speak in global, comparative terms: a comparativism of the ways of producing and ordering objects. Scholars of ancient China, Greece, and Mexico may work with radically different materials and possess radically different research skills, yet they all use similar kinds of data, produce facts in similar ways. In a discipline that still partitions itself according to nation, religion and date, these affinities of method provide a new, “horizontal” way to organize research.
Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Founded in 1996, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS) at the University of Chicago is a major center for faculty and graduate research and pedagogical training and has developed an extensive undergraduate program in gender and sexuality studies. Areas of faculty interest include gender and sexuality studies in the fields of literature and language, history, political science, biology, sociology, anthropology, economics, visual arts, media studies, human development, law, religion, and medicine. Several art history faculty members are affiliated with the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.
Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture
Since its founding in 1994, faculty, students, and staff involved with The Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture have been committed to establishing a new type of research institute devoted to the study of race and ethnicity, one that seeks to expand the study of race beyond the black/white paradigm while exploring social and identity cleavages within racialized communities. Scholars affiliated with the Center have also endeavored to make race and ethnicity central topics of intellectual investigation at the University of Chicago by fostering interdisciplinary research, teaching, and public debate among students and faculty. Towards those goals, the Center has provided funding and other types of support for a number of projects initiated by visiting fellows, graduate students, and faculty affiliated with the Center. Several faculty in art history are affiliated with the Center.
Established in 2003, the Center for East Asian Studies develops and coordinates programs to support the rapidly growing field of East Asian art and visual culture, from the perspectives of both traditional history and contemporary society. East Asian visual cultural traditions have emerged and been redefined by cultural interactions over many centuries, and this continues with greater intensity in the contemporary world. The Center supports individual scholarship in art history, and encourages collaboration of scholars from different institutions, disciplines, and countries. It organizes symposia and collaborative research projects to foster scholarly exchange, and publishes volumes of collected research papers. It has developed new visual technologies for collecting and presenting information in digital databases for teaching and research, and for museum exhibition. The Center thus provides an institutional basis to improve educational programs and encourage further international and interdisciplinary collaborative work inside and outside the university. Working within the Art History Department, the Center supplements learning in the classroom with opportunities for student interaction with visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows and funding for travel to study museum collections and attend conferences for group study and for independent research.
Chicago Language Center
The CLC’s goal, in the broadest sense, is to support the teaching and learning of languages as a component of all disciplines and programs across the University of Chicago. It provides modern, flexible teaching spaces and state-of-the-art research and materials development facilities to support and sustain the instruction of around sixty languages taught each year—more than almost any other campus in the country. The CLC administers the Summer Language Institute and the English Language Institute (for non-native speakers of English on campus). The CLC also supports shared language courses, enabling Chicago students to broaden and intensify their language study with access to language courses offered by more than twenty peer institutions.
France Chicago Center
The France Chicago Center (FCC) is devoted to fostering, promoting, and increasing fruitful intellectual exchange between the University of Chicago and France, and to increasing awareness and appreciation of French culture, art, and thought within the University community and beyond. It pursues these goals through structured initiatives—graduate workshops, fellowship and travel grant competitions, public lectures, visiting scholars, and a collaborative research seed-funding program in the sciences—and by working closely with students, faculty, and University-based partners to develop and support France-related grassroots initiatives. Several art history faculty are affiliated with the France Chicago Center.
Franke Institute for the Humanities
Established by the Humanities Division in 1990, the mission of the Franke Institute is to foster the development of innovative advanced research across the various disciplines of the humanities. In collaboration with faculty, the Institute’s distinctive role is to identify new directions and strategies in the basic patterns of humanistic learning, serving as a central clearing-house for internal and external communication about the various research programs planned or in place. For example, the Institute provides yearlong research fellowships for humanities faculty and for doctoral students, as well as grants for conferences and lectures proposed by faculty and/or students. The Institute’s internal programs also provide a forum for faculty work-in-progress, and an affiliated doctoral fellows’ group for students writing their dissertations. As a site for developing innovative interdisciplinary pedagogy, the Institute manages two programs for team-taught courses: the Center for Disciplinary Innovation, which offers graduate seminars, and the Big Problems program in the College, which offers capstone undergraduate courses.
Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American
The Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture helps coordinate the University’s rich and diverse scholarly interests in the study of American culture by sponsoring courses, seminars, and lunch-time discussions of new work; by bringing distinguished visitors to campus for lectures, symposia, and conferences; and by developing forums for meaningful interactions among scholars of different disciplines and the public. The Center is a proud co-sponsor of the Newberry Library’s Seminar in American Art and Visual Culture, Seminar in Early American History and Culture, Seminar in Labor History, the Urban History Dissertation Group, and the Seminar on Women and Gender. The Center helps to coordinate interactions between the various existing Graduate Workshops at the University wishing to explore topics in American culture.
Katz Center for Mexican Studies
The Katz Center for Mexican Studies promotes original research and interdisciplinary discussion on Mexican culture, history, arts, and politics. Its work seeks to engage and bring together the academic community of the University, the Mexican-origin populations in the city of Chicago, and fellow scholars in Mexico and beyond. The Katz Center supports University-based research initiatives connected with Mexico’s cultural and political life; it fosters collaborations between University scholars and students and their counterparts in Mexico; and it brings Mexican intellectuals, artists, journalists, and political leaders to speak at the University. To these ends, the Katz Center organizes a wide array of seminars, lectures, workshops, and conferences; it hosts visiting scholars and professors; and it publishes books related to its international conferences.
Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society creates new communities of inquiry. Through faculty research projects, a global fellows initiative, and exhibitions, the Neubauer Collegium explores novel approaches to complex human questions at the University of Chicago and beyond. Supported research projects often have a visual arts component, include art historians, and/or involve gallery exhibitions. Examples in recent years include Material Matters, Visualizing the Changing Spatial and Social Ecology of Renaissance Florence, and Open Fields: Ethics, Aesthetics and the Very Idea of a Natural History. The Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellows Program brings leading scholars, artists, and policymakers from around the world to Hyde Park to collaborate with UChicago faculty and students. Visiting Fellows are often, but not always, affiliated with a research project. Neubauer Collegium Exhibitions present both historical and contemporary art in the context of the interdisciplinary research institute. Visual arts, media, and the material culture are central to the intellectual life of the Neubauer Collegium, helping to rethink the meaning of art and the contributions it can make to scholarly inquiry.
Object Cultures Project
The Object Cultures Project (OCP) is concerned with the mutual constitution of subject and object, animate and inanimate, person and thing, and with the ways objects mediate individual and group identities. Changes in our contemporary object world (e.g., revolutions in digital technology and the proliferation of related objects like cell phones and drones) have affected that mediation, prompting a material turn in multiple fields and disciplines. Bringing together artists and a range of scholars from across the social sciences and the humanities, OCP provides experimental pedagogic fora in which to study objects and their mediating relations. Beginning with the fundamentals of what is meant by materiality and object, we strive to understand more complex aspects such as value, taste, exchange, circulation, waste, memorialization, fetishism, preservation and repatriation. Art History students and faculty have collaborated with OCP on programming, including a series of symposia on the art and praxis of salvage, which examined practices that re-use and revitalize previously wasted materials, dismantled objects, and abandoned spaces.
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts advances arts practice, inquiry, and presentation at the University of Chicago, and fosters meaningful collaboration and cultural engagement at the university, on the south side, and in the city of Chicago. Designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, the Logan Center was built to support a multitude of disciplines, and its programs, resources, and facilities are intended for people across the entire campus. In addition to a full schedule of public arts programming, the Logan Center assists UChicago faculty and students with lectures, concerts, conferences, film screenings, discussions, performances, symposia, and exhibitions. The Logan Center offers a range of resources for teaching, practice, exhibition, and performance, including programmatic partnerships, technology integration in the classroom or at events, and event promotion. Cinema and Media Studies, Theater and Performance Studies, the Department of Visual Arts, and the Department of Music are primarily based in the building, while the Department of Art History, the Committee on Creative Writing, and arts related research centers are also frequent users. Connect with the Logan Center on Facebook and Twitter.
Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry
Founded in 2011, the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago is a laboratory where artists and scholars experiment with forms of collaboration. The Gray Center’s Mellon Collaborative Fellowship for Arts Practice and Scholarship program supports projects that bring together artists and scholars (one of whom is a visiting fellow, the other a faculty member, lecturer, or staff member at the University) for a collaborative project that encompasses research, experimentation, and pedagogy. The Gray Center also runs the Gray Center Lab, a 1,100-square-foot space in Midway Studios (directly across the courtyard from the Logan Center for the Arts) that can be configured to serve as a classroom, studio, or workshop, exhibition, performance and presentation space. “The Gray” regularly partners with faculty, graduate students, and units across the university’s divisions (including faculty and graduate students in art history) to conceive and realize a diverse range of activities that explore and experiment with the ways in which scholars and artists can meaningfully intervene in and disrupt each other’s ways of knowing and doing. Among Gray Center activities that have centrally involved Art History, see Never the Same and Material Matters.
Robert Nicholson Center for British Studies
The University of Chicago is a center of remarkable strength in British Studies broadly conceived. Historically oriented work on Medieval, Early Modern and Modern Britain is now being conducted by faculty and students in the Departments of History, English, Art History, Sociology, Political Science, and Philosophy, as well as in the Law and Divinity Schools. The Robert Nicholson Center for British Studies was formed in 2003 to bring together these strengths. To further this mission of interdisciplinary study, the center funds short- and long-term graduate and undergraduate research in the UK, sponsors lectures in British Studies, hosts graduate-run conferences and other projects on topics of broad interest, and co-sponsors a variety of campus events involving British Studies. The Nicholson Center regularly helps support events with a visual arts component. Recent examples include Arts and the Nuclear Age, Friction and the City, and Larry Achiampong: Open Season.
Seminary Co-op Bookstores
The Seminary Co-op Bookstores have, since 1961, served the University of Chicago's community of scholars as well as the greater South Side, and acted as an epicenter of cultural and intellectual life. Over the past 50 years, the Co-op has grown from a small, basement store into a labyrinth of books at two locations in Hyde Park, with over 100,000 titles on their shelves. The Woodlawn Avenue store, designed by Tigerman McCurry Architects, houses an extensive collection of scholarly titles with a focus on the humanities and social sciences, including world-class criticism, philosophy, and fine arts sections. The store also provides coursebooks for UChicago. Two blocks away, at the corner of 57th Street and Kimbark Avenue, 57th Street Books houses an excellent selection of general interest titles. Both stores are committed to forming strong partnerships with campus groups and affiliates and have hosted launch parties for faculty and alumni books, collaborated on event programming, and provided sales for off-site departmental functions.
Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge
The Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge unites scholars to study the process of knowledge formation from antiquity to the present day, and, in correlation, to explore how this history shapes our modern world. The Institute's Faculty and External Faculty Board, which include art historians, are committed to investigating all aspects of the processes by which cultures claim to know what they know. Where are the boundaries between knowledge and belief? What techniques do cultures deploy to encode and verify information, and how do technological developments—in forensics and measurement, for example—impinge on these areas? What awareness do societies show regarding what is contingent about their deepest commitments? These questions may be put historically and cross-culturally. They also need urgently to be posed about those who work in notionally rational modern institutions, such as the university and the lab. The Stevanovich Institute offers opportunities for funding, including Dissertation Research Fellowships open to art history graduate students.
UChicago Arts captures the collective arts activity at the University of Chicago, a destination where artists, scholars, and audiences converge and create. With a strong tradition of intense cross-disciplinarity, intellectual curiosity, and creative energy, the University is part of a bustling arts community on Chicago’s South Side. UChicago Arts is comprised of renowned museums, galleries, theaters, music programs, and film series; initiatives connecting the arts, scholarship, and the city; field leading academic and research programs; and more than sixty student arts organizations, forging an integrative model for practice, presentation, and scholarship. UChicago Arts has collaborated with art history faculty and students on initiatives that combine scholarship and public programming, including Envisioning China and Concrete Happenings. Connect with UChicago Arts on Facebook and Twitter.
University of Chicago Global Centers
University of Chicago ideas and people cross more than academic disciplines—they transcend languages and nations. For more than a century, University of Chicago faculty and students have engaged with scholars from around the world. The University’s Global Centers—in Beijing, Delhi, Hongkong, and Paris—have expanded opportunities for collaboration with universities, research institutes, and cultural organizations; meet the needs of a growing number of faculty and students for research support and other opportunities abroad; and engage alumni throughout each region.
Visual Resources Center
The Visual Resources Center provides responsive support to the Department of Art History and the Humanities Division through the expert provision and development of high-quality visual resources for teaching and research. Established in 1902, the VRC began as an extensive collection of glass lantern slides, most of which were gifted to the Rebuild Foundation and are now accessible for research in the Stony Island Arts Bank.
Today the VRC collection comprises nearly 400,000 digital images and is always growing to meet current curricular and research demands. In addition to a large teaching collection of reproductions, the VRC also hosts several collections of original content in collaboration with the Renaissance Society, the Smart Museum, the South Side Community Art Center, and others. VRC staff also provide access to the Center’s digitization lab equipment and consultations for image-based reference questions, photography and scanning advice, personal image management, fair use and copyright concerns, and visual literacy.
The VRC is located in Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Suite 257.