Skip to main content


Canceled: Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Lena

New Books in the Arts and Sciences

dateApril 16, 2020 timeThursday, 6:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University

This event has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to rescheduling at a later date. Please watch our newsletter announcements for updates on rescheduled events.

  • Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
  • Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Department of Sociology
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated
Cover of Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts by Jennifer C. Lena

New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Lena

Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts
By: Jennifer Lena

Two centuries ago, wealthy entrepreneurs founded the American cathedrals of culture—museums, theater companies, and symphony orchestras—to mirror European art. But today’s American arts scene has widened to embrace multitudes: photography, design, comics, graffiti, jazz, and many other forms of folk, vernacular, and popular culture. What led to this dramatic expansion? In Entitled, Jennifer Lena shows how organizational transformations in the American art world—amid a shifting political, economic, technological, and social landscape—made such change possible.

By chronicling the development of American art from its earliest days to the present, Lena demonstrates that while the American arts may be more open, they are still unequal. She examines key historical moments, such as the creation of the Museum of Primitive Art and the funneling of federal and state subsidies during the New Deal to support the production and display of culture. Charting the efforts to define American genres, styles, creators, and audiences, Lena looks at the ways democratic values helped legitimate folk, vernacular, and commercial art, which was viewed as nonelite. Yet, even as art lovers have acquired an appreciation for more diverse culture, they carefully select and curate works that reflect their cosmopolitan, elite, and moral tastes.

About the Author:

Jennifer Lena is Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University and has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. She is the author of Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music and Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts, among other publications.

About the Speakers:

Jonathan Neufeld is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the College of Charleston. His work has been published in journals including the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Contemporary Aesthetics, and the Opera Quarterly.