Today I got final word that I’m scheduled to be a presenter at the 2011 Conference of the Working Class Studies Association being held June 22-25 at the University of Illinois-Chicago Conference Center (750 S. Halsted). I’ll be discussing my thesis, “Health Factories & Palaces of Pleasure: Bowling, Billiards, and the Chicago “Rec” 1898-1929.” I’ll be joined on the “Architecture and Class: Building Working Class in Chicago” panel by Joseph Bigott of Purdue University Calumet, author of From Cottage to Bungalow,who will be discussing Chicago public high school architecture from 1920 to 1945. Moderating the session will be Ann Keating of North Central College and author of Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs, a book you’ll surely find on the shelf of any Chicago architecture junkie.
It’s fitting that a multi-day event exploring American working class history and culture will be held at the University of Illinois-Chicago, a campus built on land that was once home to one of Chicago’s notorious working class slums. The UIC Conference Center is only feet away from the site of Jane Addams’ Hull-House Settlement House, once an internationally-famous resource for Chicago working class families. The original Hull-House administration building survived urban renewal and is one of the most dynamic house museums in operation today (it has a brand-spanking new exhibit exploring Hull House’s preservation over its life post-Addams).
Most of the time, when talking about documents recording American everyday life, architecture is surprisingly overlooked. That’s why I’m so excited to have the chance to talk about my work in this venue.