Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America
Thursday, October 17, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (CDT)
Architectural historian Dianne Harris discusses her Graham-funded book Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Examining textual and visual representations of ordinary postwar houses in the United States, Harris uncovers the production of an extraordinarily powerful iconographic and cultural field that repeatedly equated ordinary single-family houses with middle-class and white identities to the exclusion of others, creating an invidious cultural iconography that continues to resonate today.
Dianne Harris is director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and professor of landscape architecture, architecture, art history, and history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She holds a PhD in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarship, which has a broad temporal and geographic reach spanning from 18th-century Lombardy to the postwar United States, is united by a constant interest in the relationship between the built environment and the construction of racial and class identities. In addition to her numerous scholarly articles, her publications include the co-edited volumes Villas and Gardens in Early Modern Italy and France (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Sites Unseen: Landscape and Vision (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007). She is editor of a multidisciplinary volume titled Second Suburb: Levittown, Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), which won the Allen Noble book award from the Pioneer America Society. She is the author of The Nature of Authority: Villa Culture, Landscape, and Representation in Eighteenth-Century Lombardy (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003), which received the Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Award from the Society of Architectural Historians in 2006 and of Maybeck’s Landscapes: Drawing in Nature (William Stout Publisher, 2005). She is also the recipient of a 2006 Iris Foundation Award from the Bard Graduate Center, New York for outstanding scholarly contributions in the history of art, decorative arts, and cultural history. Harris is a past-president for the Society of Architectural Historians, for whom she also served as editor-in-chief of the Mellon Foundation-funded digital humanities initiative SAHARA and she is series editor for the University of Pittsburgh Press. Harris currently serves as chair of the Advisory Board for the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University and she is a board member for the International Built Works Registry, a project co-developed by Columbia University’s Avery Library and the ARTstor Digital Library.
This lecture is co-sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians.
Image: "National Home Advertisement," Life Magazine 37, 11 (September 13, 1954): 139.
When & Where
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.
Image: Craig Hodgetts, “Ecotopia,” 1978. Lead pencil and magazine cut out inlay, 14 1/2 x 17 inches. Copyright Craig Hodgetts. Courtesy of Hodgetts + Fung. Photo Joshua White.