The Arts and Social Engagement
A poem can change the world. Or just one person’s life. What explains the connection between an artwork and an individual, a wider public, a world? This course serves as an introduction to a pathway of courses that investigate this question by examining the variety of ways in which the arts make and meet people. We explore different modes of engagement: from the creation of stories that help us imagine and understand the complex lives of others to the research that informs this process; from criticism and curation that deeply analyze artworks to arts in the service of political ends; from the institutions and markets that channel the arts to creative therapies that help heal wounds. Different publics build and need different artworks, so we also look at how networks – cities, institutions, collectives – shape, deter, or support the arts. We think through what arts and engagement mean: who defines these ideas, to what ends, for what purposes, for how long? Case studies ground our broad investigation into how imagination and creativity connect to societal insight and action. The course also introduces students to the variety of theory, practice, and experience in the arts in which New School faculty are engaged.