URBS/FNAR 410: Urban Communities and the Arts


Urban Communities and the Arts concerns itself with Arts, Music and Activism in Philadelphia. We investigate the social, economic and cultural fabric from which activism in the arts arises. To do so, we will investigate the histories and artistic reactions to oppression in Philadelphia by drawing on specific examples from various sections of the city and through the media of music, visual art, theater, and dance. The long history of systemic and individual oppression in the US manifests itself in different ways in various urban neighborhoods in Philly and artists of various genres and inclinations participate in activism in many different ways. Examples of artistic and musical responses to the various forms of oppression will be offered and class participants will be asked to bring their own examples to share and analyze. By visiting significant arts practitioners and organizations that provide access to arts education and justice work, participants will have a hands-on experience to unpack the dynamics of artistic production in city life. In addition to art as an outlet for exposing oppression, we will also consider the ways that art and music become markers of the uniqueness of a neighborhood or city, which further complicates the idea of art as a tool for activism. Participants in Urban Communities and the Arts will unpack the role of music and art in defining city or neighborhood cultures by considering a few key sectors that reveal the ways in which cities fail to provide equal access to resources or participate in outright discrimination. At the same time, cities continue to cultivate creative spaces and socio-economic opportunities for economic gain and social understanding through art and music. It is the contradictions that this course will concern itself with and out of our study we will invite course participants to respond creatively. Participants will create either an original work of art, music or intellectual response like a visually interesting research poster as part of a final art/music show. Ultimately students will be asked to reflect back on the role of art in social and political activism to better understand the successes and failures of such movements as they come to define the ethos of city life and its limits.


Dr. Molly McGlone, Associate Director and Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs
Derek Rigby, Artist, Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania


Monday, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.