Of Play and Prudery: Entertainment and Censorship in Chicago | Newberry

Of Play and Prudery: Entertainment and Censorship in Chicago

Led by Lucas Bensley
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Three sessions. Tuesdays, August 2-August 16.



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To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.

Seminar Description

“Of Play and Prudery” is a cultural history course on public entertainment and censorship politics in Chicago from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Mid-Twentieth Century. This course is intended to introduce casual and lifelong learners to cultural history and to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the history of Chicago.

Students will learn about patterns of life, leisure, and cultural politics in the Windy City and draw comparisons to the shifting culture and identity of Chicago in the present, while also learning how to use tools of Public History to research and share historical knowledge with a public audience.

Lucas Bensley is a Doctoral Candidate in the History Program at Loyola University in Chicago. His current research focuses on the history of burlesque, drag, and censorship politics in Chicago since the later Nineteenth Century.

Materials List


  • Instructor Distributed Materials

First Reading:

  • Please read the following readings in preparation for our first class meeting:

    • The Road to Destruction Made Easy in Chicago.”

    • The Prologue for Lawrence Levine’s “Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America,” which you will find in the folder for digital readings.

    • A short essay titled, “A City of Amusements,” from Scott Newman’s digital history project Jazz Age Chicago: Urban Leisure from 1893 to 1945.

    • Also, consider skimming some of the profiles of historical theaters in Chicago from the website, Chicagology.

Cost and Registration Information 

Three sessions. Registration: $170 ($153 for Newberry members, seniors, and students)

Please note: You’ll register for this class on a platform called Learning Stream. Questions? Contact us at adulteducation@newberry.org.

Register for this class now.