Chicago Designs: New Approaches for Teaching Politics, Commerce, and Culture is a workshop exploring methods and strategies for incorporating design history and theory into classroom teaching. Welcoming up to twenty university teachers, museum and library workers, and graduate students from across disciplines, Chicago Designs will meet in person in Chicago from June 14-17, 2022, with virtual sessions on June 30 and July 7. Led by four interdisciplinary scholars with deep knowledge of the history of design in Chicago, the workshop will focus on distinct episodes in that history and underscore how key migrant and immigrant communities contributed to and shaped the development of the city as a major center of design activity. Participants will build curricular projects and also learn strategies for teaching with archival collections through hands-on activities and discussions with archivists, curators, and scholars at several different Chicago collections.
- Day 1, Tuesday, June 14: Newberry Library
- Day 2, Wednesday, June 15: University of Illinois at Chicago Special Collections and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
- Day 3, Thursday, June 16: Chicago Cultural Center and the Art Institute of Chicago
- Day 4, Friday, June 17: Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection and the South Side Community Art Center
Design, as an aesthetic practice and as a way of shaping the physical environment, has become an important aspect to undergraduate education well beyond design studies. In the classroom, teachers are using images and objects to illustrate narratives of historical change, processes of social transformation, and techniques of aesthetic reproduction. Yet, as design historians and theorists have shown, images and objects are more than illustrations of other social and cultural phenomena: they are works of design with their own histories of production, distribution, and use. Typography, fashion, interior decoration, and industrial design—just to name a few design practices—have played major roles in the American consumer economy, movements for political change, and experiences of everyday life. And Chicago—a home for leading design schools and practitioners as well as seminal clients and patrons of design—offers numerous case studies and resources for bringing design history into the classroom.
This workshop will introduce participants to the resources and methods central to these lines of inquiry through readings, discussions, and visits to archives. The seminar will foreground how the study of the history of design in Chicago is meaningfully interrelated with a range of fields of study beyond art history, such as African American studies, American studies, and business history.
Generous support from the Terra Foundation will cover the costs of site visits and provide stipends for all workshop participants; limited additional funds are also available for those traveling longer distances.