Building Chicago Identity in Third Places

Cities can be understood as mosaics of different sorts of places where we construct identity, starting with the home and workplace, where we are defined by family relationships and by what we do for a living. But sociologist Ray Oldenburg has theorized the "third place," where city dwellers voluntarily form communities based on shared interests and concerns beyond the ties of blood or money. Third places are usually semi-public spaces, characterized by a low cost of entry, and populated by an established group of people, but still open to newcomers. In this seminar, we will explore this sort of urban space, focusing on bars, cafes, and barber shops as quintessential third places depicted in Chicago literature and film from the 19th century to the 21st.