Sociology of Artists
Mozart, Van Gogh, and Baudelaire
Department of Sociology, Tunghai University
Phone:(04；23590121 ext. 36313
Office Hours/ Place: Wed.-Thu. 7:30am~8:30am東海大學丹堤咖啡館；請事先約定？
Class: Tuesday 9:10-12:00
Course Description and Objectives
Wendy Griswold once remarked that the sociology of art is more like a field of flowers than a field of battle. It has produced impressive theoretical assertions, brilliant but isolated insights and rich veins of research findings, but it has not coalesced as a proper field. Indeed, the subfield of sociology of art has remained relatively under-developed during the past few decades. And people are wondering what sociology can add to our understanding
of art in contemporary society. To tackle this challenge, the purpose of this course intends to shed new light on Mozart, van Gough, and Baudelaire by deploying the sociology of art perspective. We shall engage a sociological insight into how these artists are shaped by their social settings, and consider the impact that social and cultural contexts have on the way in which artistic products are greeted by audiences. Throughout this course, the central questions the sociology of art addresses will include:
; What is art? What counts as art and what does not? Who decides what is “art” and what
; In what ways are “art” and “society” related? How does the nature of society impact the
nature of art? How does art influence social relations?
; In what ways are the arts and forms of social power connected?
; How are the arts dealt in different society?
; How are artworks made? What is an “artists”?
; How are artworks distributed to audiences?
; What are the ways in which audiences make sense of artworks?
; Why do some people like certain types of art and not others? What does a person’s taste
tell us about them?
This course has thus both a dual structure and purposes. In terms of structure, it is split into two parts. The first part deals with theoretical ideas that inform the sociology of art. The second part shows how the various theoretical positions in the sociology of art can be utilized to analyze Mozart, van Gough and Baudelaire respectively. In terms of purpose of this course, first, it seeks to introduce those with little or no prior knowledge of the sociology of art to main themes, issues and problems developed and encountered by sociologists during the past few decades. The second aim of this course is to study “artists”
sociologically with specific emphasis on the issue of “artists in society” and not just artists
per se. Certainly, artists are at the center of the production of culture. But they do not exist in vacuum. They conceive of the art and bring it into being with their particular social and cultural context. This course looks at the careers of artists, drawing on labor market studies, and at the dynamics of art worlds. It examines ways that society might try to control artists. This course also discusses how artistic reputations and how these are built and maintained.
Basic Analytical Framework
創作者 氮費者 經銷商
Some Preliminary Thoughts about Sociology of Art
I. The first approximation and Clarification:
A. Art & Society vs. Art & Social Theory
B. Sociology of Culture vs. Sociology of Art
C. Aesthetic vs. Sociological Explanation of Art
a. A purely internal and hagiographic aesthetical commentary of art works
b. Treated works of art as extractions removed from their social context
*Sociological inversion of aesthetic explanation :
a. “We do not admire the Venus de Milo because it is beautiful; it is beautiful
because we admire it.”
b. Sociologists argue that no object has intrinsically “artistic” qualities and tend to
see the “artistic” nature of an “artwork” not as an intrinsic and inalienable property
of the object, but rather as a label put onto it by certain interested parties, members
of social groups whose interests are augmented by the objects being defined as
D. Basic Undertones of the Sociology of Art
*Re-socialization of art: fully recognize the social nature of art
*In what ways are “art” and “society” related?
*In what ways does social relations and institutions impact upon the creation,
distribution and appreciation of artworks?
*Art as a social reality
*Art as a social process: Howard Becker’s “Art World:” as a leading form of this
type of analysis. Art works as the result of collective work efforts—in contrast
with the idea of the uniqueness and genius of the individual artist.
* Bourdieu’s notion of the “art world” as a “field”, structured around and by
opposed forces of artistic orthodoxy and rebellion.
*The notion of “mediation”: pay more attention to the materiality of intermediaries
*Art’s diverse and changing contexts of production, distribution and
*The key concern of art is not creation, genius, and works proper but what makes
them appears as such. Rejecting subjectivism, the cult of genius and hold that the
artist’s self-glorifying discourse is only the precondition of sociology of art.
* Examine how a particular “artist” is involved within a particular “division of
cultural labor”. ？”de-centering” the artist
E. A Final Dilemma Facing the Sociology of Art:
; Without reverting to the autonomous aesthetic comments, how to incorporate
the material character of works produced and devices used?
; How to fill the gap between internal (essentialist) and external (reductionist)
; How to provide a grounded and conjunctural understanding of the complex
interplays between art and society?
; A sociology of art, not against art
; Some/all fallacy
; Strong and weak programs in sociology of art
; Do not throw out the baby with the bathwater: aesthetic explanations are
II. Point of Departure: Wendy Griswold’s “Cultural Diamond” & Victoria Alexander’s
A. Wendy Griswold
B. Victoria Alexander
C. Howard Becker: His book “Art Worlds” is premised on the idea that art production
is work like any other form of production.
D. Sociologists, art historians and aestheticians should work with, rather than against
In a seminar course of this sort, it is my wish that I want the sessions and discussions to be as stimulating and exciting as possible, with a collegial and supportive atmosphere. Pedgogically, this seminar is dedicated to the proposition that knowledge is a collective product. This intellectual journey is intended to be collective; each participant (including me) is expected to contribute to our discussions and debates. Good seminars depend to a great extent on the seriousness of preparation by students. Let us all be good and responsible class citizens to make contributions as much as possible.
Requirements and Grading: (More specific requirements/details will be announced in class)
Class Participation and Discussion: 20%
Weekly Issue Memo Prepared for Class Presentation: 30%
Handbook of Core Concepts: 50%
The requirements for this course are fourfold. You must fulfill all four of them; do not take this course if for whatever reason you cannot do so. All participants will be expected to: 1) take an active part in discussions ; 2) make at least two presentations on the readings to the
seminar and two critical comments on the weekly presentations during the semester ; 3)
prepare weekly issue memos on the week’s required readings ; 4) a critical journal of core
1) Active Participation in Discussion: remember and apply this aphorism of Wittgenstein:
“Even to have expressed a false thought boldly and clearly is already to have gained a
great deal.” So speak up and speak out! What each of you will get out of the course
depends in good measure on how much you collectively put in. So, play a constructive
role in discussion: offer your own ideas in small chunks instead of long monologues;
draw out and ask for clarification of the opinions of others; pose issues and questions
you may not know the answer to; learn to permit someone to disagree with you without
feeling attacked; learn to express disagreement in ways that promote constructive
discussion instead of polarization.
2) Seminar Presentations: Each week students will present that week’s readings and lead
discussions. These presentations should be 30-40 minutes long for each and should try
to establish a focused agenda for the discussion that follows. The point of the
presentation is not to comprehensively summarize the readings, but to provide a critical
evaluation, focusing on the strengths and weakness of the arguments/analyses,
comparing different perspectives, and highlighting the most important issues and
questions they raise as a way of launching the day’s discussion. In addition to the
presentations, each week one or two students should play the role of “discussant” to
critically comment on the presentations. These comments should be 10 minutes long.
The presentors should submit their prepared texts through e-mail by Sunday 17:00
such that the discussants will have enough time to prepare comments/responses. Be
considerate to the discussants, late submission would be unfriendly to the
discussants to prepare thoughtful comments.
3) Weekly Issue Memo: to facilitate collective learning and avoid a situation of
“pluralistic ignorance”, every week participants will submit issue-memo to the class as
a whole by e-mail. I believe strongly that it is important for students to engage the
week’s readings in written form prior to the seminar sessions. These weekly memos
are intended to prepare the ground for good discussions by requiring participants to set
out their initial responses to the readings which will improve the quality of the class
discussion since students come to the sessions with an already thought-out agenda. I
refer to these written comments as “issue memos”. They are not meant to be
mini-papers on the readings; nor need they summarize the readings as such. Rather,
they are meant to be a think-piece, reflecting your own intellectual engagement with the
material: specifying what is obscure or confusing in the reading; taking up issue
with some core idea or argument; exploring some interesting ramification of an idea in
the reading. These memos do not have to deal with the most profound, abstract or
grandiose arguments in the readings; the point is that they should reflect what you find
most engaging, exciting or puzzling. These issue memos should be 1-2 pages long.
We will arrange to share these memos through e-mail, and the week’s presenters, if s/he
likes, can use other students’ comments to prepare an agenda for discussion. In order for
everyone to have time to read over other class participants’ comments, these will be
imperatively due on e-mail NO LATER THAN MONDAY (the day before class；
17:00. And bring a printed-out copy to the class to the instructor. You are encouraged to
read and to respond to each other’s issue memos both before and after the week’s
meeting. These memos are a real requirement, and failing to hand in memos will affect
your grade. I will read through the memos to see if they are “serious”, but not grade
them for “quality”. Since the point of this exercise is to enhance discussions, late
memos will not be accepted. If you have to miss a seminar session for some reason, you
are still required to prepare an issue memo for that session. Since I may not total the
number of memos each student writes until the end of the semester, please keep copies
to be sure of fulfilling the requirements. Students who submit memos should also be
prepared to summarize/explain them in class.
4. Keep a critical journal of core concepts (More specific instructions of preparing this journal will be discussed in due course of this class)
?Alternative Option: Keeping a Critical Journal
This option consists of writing an analytic journal on the issues raised in the course. The journal will consist of a healthy number of typed entries on specific topics generated by readings, discussions, and any other material you encounter. Each entry would normally
be between a paragraph and several pages in length. The whole journal may be about 20-25 pages in length, and each entry should demonstrate both your knowledge of the reading as well as your own ideas arising from it. Ponder Beth Schneider’s criteria: “Better journals will demonstrate broad knowledge of the reading, integrate materials, compare authors, display thoughtful, sociologically grounded writing. Length without integration, details without analysis, unsubstantiated opinions will not be sufficient.” A journal with a high grade would have both breadth (i.e. will cover most of the weekly topics and readings), and quality insights.
The purpose of this critical journal is to write a personal handbook of Foucault’s work
based primarily on the readings we will be doing during this semester. For at least some of the topics, you will be expected to do some additional reading by following up some of the footnotes in the assigned core readings or in suggested readings you will be doing for the class sessions. This project should quickly become part of your ongoing work during the semester. If you leave this until the end of the semester it will be impossible to complete the task on schedule.
Your handbook should include at least 10 concepts. At least 7 of these concepts must come from the following list, and you will need to add at least 3 additional concepts of your own to make the total of 10.
Core Concepts in Sociology of Art
1. advertising 18. fine arts
2. aesthetics 19. folk arts
3. art worlds 20. gate-keepers
4. artistic field 21. haute couture
5. artists 22. haute cuisine
6. audiences 23. hegemony
7. aura 24. high arts
8. avant-garde 25. canonical works
9. commodity fetishism 24. patronage
10. critics26. periodical eyes
11. cultural capital 27. popular arts
12. culture diamond 28. reflection approaches
13. cultural imperialism 29. shaping approaches
14. cultural industries 30. social boundaries
15. distinction theory 31. Symbolic boundaries
16. fads and fashions 32. taste
17. false consciousness 33. texts
Suggested list of scholars in art sociology
1. Adorno, Theodor 13. Griswold, Wendy.
2. Alexander, Victoria D. 14. Hauser, Arnold.
3.Appadurai, Arjun 15. Hirsch, Paul M.
4. Baxandall, Michael. 16. Marx,Karl
5. Becker, Howard. 17. Peterson, Richard A.
6. Benjamin, Walter. 18. Pollock, Griselda
7. Berger, John 19. Simmel, Georg
8. Bourdieu, Pierre. 20. Weber, Max
9. Crane, Diana. 21. Williams, Raymond.
10. DeNora, Tia 22. Wolff, Janet.
11. DiMaggio Paul. 23. Zolberg, Vera L.
12. Eagleton, Terry
What to do in your entries?
a. There is no set format for entries in the handbook, and no rigid specification for
length. The general expectation is that the entries will be of 2-5 pages (not
counting bibliographic citations), but these are only rough guidelines. Entry can
vary a lot in complexity and length. Some of them can be short, crisp discussions
of some narrow issues; others can be more extended mini-essays on debates over
theoretical issues involving the concept.
b. For some of the concepts you may want to focus on the problem of the formal
definition (or alternative definitions), especially where the definitions is contested
in the literature. If you choose the concepts of “culture” or “discourse”, for
example, there is much debate about how to define these concepts which could be
a useful way of organizing your discussion. For other concepts the central issue
may be less formal definition and more the theoretical relevance of the concept,
how it is linked to various kinds of explanations or questions. In a discussion of the
concepts of “power” or “subject”, for example, you might want to focus on such
theoretical issues rather than formal definitions. And in some cases you might want
to discuss the historical development of the concept. Of course, you can do more
than one of these things in a given entry.
c. Whatever the specific focus of your entry, wherever possible it is good to try to
clarify debates over the concept and its theoretical status. This is not a
requirement for all entries, but it is something to keep in mind as you organize
d. Whether or not your entry revolves around a discussion of alternative definitions,
most entries should begin with an explicit discussion of the definition of the
concept. I recommend that this be identified by a specific section heading.
e. In longer mini-essay type entries you should use section headings to divide up the
internal structure of the discussion.
f. Entries should not be mainly recapitulations of the lectures from class. You can,
of course, draw on the ideas in the lectures and class discussions, but the handbook
should be your own integration and reflection on the ideas.
g. The entries should also include a bibliography of the sources to which you
explicitly refer in the discussion. You can also include a supplementary
bibliography of works dealing with the topic which you do not directly discuss, but
this is less important.
B. Suggested Strategy
I suggest that you create a directory on your computer for this class and then create a separate file for each of the concepts and authors. (You might even want to create a separate sub-directory for each concept and author). As you do the reading for the semester you can then easily add ideas, summaries, commentaries to each of these. In general you will need to rewrite and edit these entries in order to turn them into coherent pieces.
C. Due Dates
In order to be sure you are on track on this assignment, I want to read an example of one concept entry and one author entry no later than 27 April. The complete handbook is due on , 2010/06/30.
About Incompletes: Taking an incomplete is like going into debt with a loan shark. The day the deadline is past, interest starts accruing and the quality of paper you think you need to write grows exponentially. Most of the students I have given incompletes to in the past have taken much longer time and difficulties getting them done, and I have decided I must change my formerly lax policy. You are far better off doing the paper you can do now
than trying to do the paper you wish you could do later. I am wiling to negotiate a deadline
with you that accommodates your other obligations (e.g. grading responsibilities as a TA),
but you must meet the deadline. If you realize you have defined your paper more broadly
than you can execute, speak to me about narrowing the bounds of the paper, not about
taking longer to do it.
Alexander, Victoria.2003.Sociology of the Arts. MA: Blackwell.
Heinich, Natalie, 1996. The Glory of Van Gough: An Anthropology of Admiration.
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