Spring 2023 - CMNS 488 D100

Selected Topics in Communication (4)

Art Worlds

Class Number: 2848

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    SSCK 8669, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Depends on topic; published before enrollment.



Intensive analysis of a particular topic in the general area of communication. This course can be repeated for credit up to a maximum of three times, if topic studied is different.


Art Worlds as/and Communication

The course introduces major debates and theoretical approaches in social studies of the arts, such as Howard Becker’s notion of art worlds as well as ideas about social structures and agency in the arts and culture proposed by Pierre Bourdieu. Is art "outside" of society? Are artists unique visionaries or are they part of society? Does art "reflect" society? Can it shape social issues?

Processes and Institutions

One way of critically analyzing the arts is to examine processes and social organizations related to artistic "production" or "creation", mediation and reception (such as museums, and the film, music and publishing industries). We will examine debates about canons, recognition processes, and models for the social organization of work in art worlds. How do art forms and creators achieve recognition?

Social Identities, Social Issues and the Arts

Throughout the term we will consider questions related to the interplay of the arts, social identities, inequalities and public activism. Do artistic tastes function as status markers for "consumers"(audiences, art publics, fans, etc.)? How do classification systems arise that define different art forms? What does arts consumption or taste mean for publics? How are the arts used to challenge or reinforce status distinctions? How do the arts serve as affordances in everyday life, socio-political activism, or public debates?


  • Short Assignments (to be submitted on Canvas) 35%
  • Discussant work (with postings on Canvas) 15%
  • Term Assignment (proposal, research paper and round table presentations) 50%



Readings: Readings will be available electronically or put on reserve.

Other study activities:  visits to artistic events (mostly online).


Readings will be available electronically or put on reserve.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html