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Elijah Anderson, photo by Martha SpanningerELIJAH ANDERSON


NYS Writers Institute, April 26, 2011
7:30 p.m. Reading | Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptoan Campus

Elijah Anderson, key figure in the fields of urban sociology and urban ethnography, author of the sociology classic, A Place on the Corner (1978), will discuss his new book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life (2011), on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME] at the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day the author will offer an informal seminar at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the uptown campus of the University at Albany. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Friends of the Albany Public Library, and are free and open to the public.

Cosmopolitan CanopyElijah Anderson
is a key figure in the disciplines of urban sociology and ethnography. His first book, A Place on the Corner (1978), a study of African American ghetto life, is an all-time classic in its field. His newest book is The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life (2011), an exploration of particular public spaces such as libraries, workplaces and stores— “urban oases” as he calls them— where interracial harmony is “business as usual.”

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Anderson’s nuanced treatment of ‘the social dynamics of racial inequality’ and his precise observations (the politics of eye contact, for example)… offer immediate pleasure, and the book is a people watcher’s delight.” Randall Collins, President of the American Sociological Association, said, “This is the most important book on race relations in many years. Elijah Anderson takes us behind the statistics into the scenes of everyday life. We witness front-stage performances of integration and back-stage racial ethnocentrism, as well as the venues where interracial cosmopolitan civility is constructed…. The Cosmopolitan Canopy offers a gift for our pessimistic times: a book of realistic optimism.”

A key text in urban studies for decades, A Place on the Corner (1978) is based entirely on Anderson’s personal experiences at Jelly’s Liquor Store, a hangout in Chicago’s tough South Side neighborhood. Anderson spent night after night, month after month, observing self-described “regulars,” “hoodlums,” and “wineheads,” and taking note of their rituals, customs, and social hierarchies. At the time of its publication the book was considered nothing less than revolutionary. Writing for The Nation, Peter Kovler called it “an extraordinary accomplishment.” A 25th Anniversary edition was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2003.

Other works by Anderson include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999), winner of the Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Society, and Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award.

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1975 until 2008, Anderson serves currently as the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst or call 518-442-5620.