Jeffrey Trask specializes in the social and cultural history of the United States and the history of cities. He has a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Design from Radford University. His research and teaching focus on the aesthetic economy of cities, with particular focus on the relationship between the arts, aesthetic and stylistic elements of the built environment and political and economic relations. His book Things American: Art Museums and Civic Culture in the Progressive Era (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) examines a movement in the early twentieth century that put art museums at the center of the cultural politics of the Progressive Era, using museum objects as models of good design to influence the physical environment of cities. His new research looks at the relationship between the design and planning of industrial spaces and the social and cultural politics of urban growth. This new research examines relations between industry and labor, reformers and working-class families and the architects and engineers who developed landscapes of industrial capitalism. “’The Loft Cause’ or ‘Bohemia Gone Bourgeois’? Artist Housing and Private Development in Greenwich Village” (Journal of Urban History, November 2015) examines the history of the Westbeth Arts Center – the first large-scale institutional conversion of industrial spaces into artist lofts.
Jeffrey Trask teaches courses in urban history and the built environment, public history, museum studies, and the cultural and intellectual history of the U.S.