Saint Louis University

Benjamin Looker, Ph.D.

Benjamin Looker, Ph.D.    

Benjamin Looker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of American Studies

314-977-3008

Adorjan Hall 112
3800 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108 

blooker@slu.edu           


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education

Ph.D. in American Studies, Yale University (2009)
M.A. and M.Phil. in American Studies, Yale University (2005 & 2006)
M.A. in Cities, Globalization, and Culture, Dept. of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London (2001)
A.B. in Urban Studies and in Music, Washington University in St. Louis (2000)

Courses Taught

Graduate:

ASTD 510 – Perspectives in American Studies
ASTD 540 – Metropolitan America
ASTD 550 – The Practice of American Studies
ASTD 620 – Jazz, Cities, & Social Movements
ASTD 644 – From Satchmo to Strangelove: Cold War Cultural Politics and the "American Century" 

Undergraduate:

ASTD 322 – The Urban Crisis
ASTD 320 – Making the American City: Culture, Space, & 20th-century U.S. Urbanisms
ASTD 310 – American Decades: Culture of the Cold War, 1947–63
ASTD 410 – Senior Seminar

SLU College of Arts and Sciences Awards:

Recipient, 2012 Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
Recipient, 2014 Helen I. Mandeville Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Humanities

Research

Ben works in the areas of twentieth-century urban social and cultural studies, jazz history, and postwar U.S. cultural history. His book A Nation of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America, forthcoming in 2015, examines competing ways in which the city neighborhood has been imagined in U.S. arts, popular culture, and political discourse from World War II to the Reagan era. He is the author of articles and reviews on urban cultural history, as well as the 2004 book "Point from which creation begins": The Black Artists' Group of St. Louis, which narrates the history of a radical and influential arts collective of the 1960s. 

Service

Ben serves on the Advisory Board for the university's Micah House program and the interdepartmental Urban Workshop Team. He also represents the American Studies Department as board member for the Mid-America American Studies Association (MAASA). In the past, he has been a member of the Faculty Council of the College of Arts & Sciences (2010–12), the SLU Mellon Faculty Development Grants Selection Committee (2009–11), the Des Peres Hall Learning Studio Advisory Committee (2010), and three departmental faculty search committees. Before joining SLU, he organized the two-day symposium and concert series "Music and Musicians of the Black Artists' Group in St. Louis" (2006), and he served as a volunteer union organizer for the Graduate Employees & Students Organization (GESO) at Yale University. Ben currently organizes an irregular departmental series of lectures, walks, and panels on local urban spaces and culture.

Publications

Book: A Nation of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2015).

Book: "Point from which Creation Begins": The Black Artists' Group of St. Louis (St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2004). [Reviewed in J. American History, J. African American History, J. Royal Musical Association, Choice, AllAboutJazz.com, and Mo. Historical Review.]

Article: "Visions of Autonomy: The New Left and the Neighborhood Government Movement of the 1970s," Journal of Urban History 38, no. 3 (May 2012): 577–598.

Article: "Microcosms of Democracy: Imagining the City Neighborhood in World War II-Era America," Journal of Social History 44, no. 2 (December 2010): 351–378.

Review essay: "Revisiting City and Race," Canadian Review of American Studies 33, no. 2 (2003): 171–183.

Essay: "Exhibiting Imperial London: Empire and the City in Late Victorian and Edwardian Guidebooks," Critical Urban Studies: Occasional Papers Series (London: Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths College, 2002).

Article: "‘Poets of Action': The St. Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968–1972," Gateway-Heritage: The Quarterly Journal of the Missouri Historical Society 22, no. 1 (Summer 2001): 16–27.

Liner notes: Liner-note essay for LP reissue of Black Artists Group, In Paris, Aries 1973 (Berlin: Rank & File Records, March 2011).

Press: Contributor of articles on urban spaces, academic labor, and jazz for St. Louis–area media outlets including the Post-Dispatch, Metropolis, Marquis, The Commonspace, and others, 2000–2005.

Individual reviews: Review of Groping toward Democracy: African American Social Welfare Reform in St. Louis, 1910–1949, by Priscilla A. Dowden-White, Missouri Historical Review 106, no. 4 (May 2012): 245–246. Review of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown, by Nayan Shah, Gateway-Heritage 23, no. 3 (Winter 2002/03): 53.

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