Populism, Art, and the City

Global Urban Humanities Core Seminar


Spring 2018
CY PLAN 291/TDPS 266

Instructors: Jason Luger (City Planning) and Angela Marino (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies)

Mondays 2PM-5PM, Dwinelle Hall 44

Populism, Art, and the City

Populism is intrinsically about people, social interactions and collective identifications. But as much as it is embodied, populism also shapes—and is shaped by—urban environments around the world, constructing the very terms of ‘the people’ and civic belonging through various kinds of utopian, contingent and informal design.

This course will examine the core tenets of urban theory and performance studies through the framework of populism and populist art production in visual and performing arts, including theater, radio, film, social media, printmaking, posters, and street art. Themes will include theories of publics and crowds, populism as “style” in propaganda aesthetics and cultural semiotics, monumental and ordinary places, and the histories of enduring populist social movements. 

We will learn about marketplaces and plazas, city streets and neighborhoods, post offices, popular eateries, and shipyards—both locally and globally—to more fully engage with the political cultures and gathering grounds of collective action, public works, and government of the streets. Readings may include works by urban spatial, social and political theorists such as Clara Irazábal, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, AbdouMaliq Simone, Jen Harvie, Partha Chatterjee, Jesús Martín Barbero, Ngugi Wa’ Thiong’o, David Harvey, and Bruno Latour. This is a course cross-listed as a Global Urban Humanities Core Seminar. Students will practice methods of mapping and ethnography, drawing from a range of case points in the humanities and urban studies. There will be smaller project assignments, workshops, and a final paper project ideal for developing dissertation chapters or towards master’s projects.