Scholars in Residence

Fall 2016: Shamus Kahn

Shamus Khan is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where he is the director of the graduate program. He writes on culture, inequality, and elites. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (Princeton), The Practice of Research (Oxford, with Dana Fisher), the forthcoming Exceptional: The Astors, the New York Elite, and the story of American Inequality  (Princeton) and Approaches to Ethnography: Modes of Representation and Analysis in Participant Observation (Oxford). He directs the working group on the political influence of economic elites at the Russell Sage Foundation, is the series editor of “The Middle Range” at Columbia University Press, and the editor of the journal Public Culture. He writes regularly for the popular press such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, and serving as a columnist for Time Magazine. He is on the Governing Board of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University and a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities.


Public Humanites Lecture:
Who Attended Classical Music Concerts in the Gilded Age? Class Formation, Culture, and “Big Data” Using the New York Philharmonic Archive
Thursday, October 20, 2016 @ 5:30pm, Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

The Gilded Age was the key period of class formation in the United States. Cultural institutions played a central role in this process. Historians, cultural critics, and social scientists have argued that such institutions, like orchestras, helped consecrate “high culture” through the exclusion of non-elite audiences. Drawing upon a unique database of subscribers to the New York Philharmonic, this talk challenges this story, showing how during the Gilded Age the Philharmonic opened up to new members. Through a combination of historical analysis and “big data” we see a complex relations between social closure, social openness, and the dynamics of inequality in the Gilded Age.