Lecture: Consuming Chicago Design



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Photo of Lizabeth Cohen seated at a desk

Lizabeth Cohen. Photo by Diana Levine.

This is the keynote lecture for the symposium Chicago Design: Histories and Narratives, Questions and Methods.

Hear from urban historian and writer Lizabeth Cohen, the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University, as she explores the larger social, cultural, and economic context of design in Chicago. Cohen examines how city economics and ethnic makeup influenced the choices of designers and the implementation of their work. She also explains how design may have mattered to ordinary Chicagoans—in their homes, in their neighborhoods, and in the city as a whole.

About the Speaker
Lizabeth Cohen is a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the Department of History. She recently served for seven years as the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. Her interests have recently focused on urbanism and the built environment. Cohen is the author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939 (1990, new edition with new introduction 2008; Canto Classic 2015)—a classic work in the social history of working-class residents of the city, winner of the Bancroft Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer; and A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (2003). She is currently finishing a new book, Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, forthcoming 2019), which explores shifting strategies in the rebuilding of American cities after World War II by following the career of a major figure in urban renewal, Edward J. Logue, who worked in New Haven in the 1950s, Boston in the 1960s, and New York city and state from 1968 to 1985. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She received her AB from Princeton University and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

To request an accessibility accommodation for an Art Institute program, please call (312) 443-3680 or send an email to access@artic.edu as far in advance as possible.

Please see the museum’s Accessibility page for more information.


This lecture is presented in partnership with Chicago Design: Histories and Narratives, Questions and Methods, a conference organized by Jonathan Mekinda, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Bess Williamson, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  

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The conference is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring Chicago's art and design legacy, with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.


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