We live full-time in San Francisco but it doesn’t feel like it because we spend three to four months a year in Europe, mostly in France, mostly in Paris, but with visits to some other places from time to time.
We spent the fall of 2009 in France, as usual. I participated in a conference on the training of artists in September, in Paris, and in another in Grenoble in November, on "Art and Politics," which was also be the occasion for a memorial session dedicated to the memory of Alain Pessin. I've added those papers to the list of my articles.
Some book news. The book Rob Faulkner and I wrote about our years in the music business, making a little sociology out of them, has now been published bythe University of Chicago Press. It’s called Do You Know . . . ? The Jazz Repertoire in Action. It deals with this situation: several musicians show up for work one night at a club; they don’t know each other and so have never played together; they don’t have any written music with them. Nevertheless, they play together successfully for the next several hours. How do they do that? It takes us nine chapters and an appendix to provide the beginnings of the answer. We had fun writing it and hope readers will enjoy it as much as we did.
Paroles et Musique, the book of my papers that includes a CD Benoit Cancoin and I recorded in Grenoble, thanks to the efforts of the late Alain Pessin, is still available from Harmattan. As I’ve said before, even if you can’t read French the book costs no more than a CD so just ﬁgure that you’re buying the CD and getting the book as an extra. (You can use it to make your friends think you are expert in other languages.) Pessin and Alain Blanc also published (also with L’Harmattan) L’art du terrain: Mélanges offerts à Howard S. Becker, a book of papers (of the kind Anglophones call a festchrift) by an all-star cast of French sociologists. (All the French translations of my work are available from French Amazon.) Finally, Alain Pessin paid me the greatest possible compliment, writing a book explaining my ideas better than I can. It’s called Un sociologue en liberté: Lecture de Howard S. Becker and it’s available from the publisher. It was very sad when he died, so young, in December 2005.
Dianne Hagaman’s visual hypertext, “Howie Feeds Me,” is available in a new version compatible with Windows XP (Vista users are on their own) and Mac OSX, which you can download for free here.
In September, 2003, I organized a conference for the Social Science Research Council of New York on the sociology of art. The resulting book, with another all-star cast, is called Art From Start To Finish. I edited it with Robert Faulkner and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and and has been published by the University of Chicago Press and is available from them and probably from a bookstore here and there.
Here’s something for the curious. There once was another sociologist named Howard Becker, who was quite famous in his day (roughly the 30s to the 60s). Learn more about him, why we aren’t related, and who he was related to by clicking here.
Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While You’re Doing It is available from the University of Chicago Press. I have always thought of the book they published some years ago, Writing for Social Scientists, as my “writing” book. I think of this one as my “thinking” book. (You can get some information about it at the University of Chicago Press website.) And you can read the entire ﬁrst chapter at their site as well. The book appeared in France, in an excellent translation by Jacques Mailhos and with some ﬁne editorial touches by Henri Peretz, in April 2002, published by La Découverte. The French title is Les ﬁcelles du métier. In May, Decouverte will publish a French translation of Telling About Society. An Italian edition of Art Worlds has been published by Il Mulino and they have an Italian version of Tricks of the Trade, I trucchi del mestiere available now too. Zahar Editores have published a Brazilian edition in Portuguese and have now followed that up with a translation, after all these years, of Outsiders.
Telling About Society, published by the University of Chicago Press, deals with all the different ways people have used to communicate what they thought they knew about society, everything from novels and plays to mathematical models. You can get an idea of the book’s contents and perspective from the syllabus and list of readings from a course of that name I have taught a couple of times.