• 15 May 2021 9:25 AM | Christine R Henry
    The University of Mary Washington’s Center for Historic Preservation announces the winners of the 2021 book prize.  The prize has been awarded annually since 1989 to the book (or books) with the most potential for positively impacting the discipline of historic preservation in the United States.  One of the two winners this year is VAF member, Tom Hubka for his book How the Working Class Home Because Modern, 1900-1940.  Read the full announcement and details of the prize here.
  • 15 May 2021 9:20 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Robert Mellin presented a lecture to the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Architects (NLAA) on April 14, 2021 titled “Learning from the Vernacular” about the construction of his house in Granada, Nicaragua. 

  • 15 May 2021 9:15 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Meredith Drake Reitan was part of a research team featured on the Save As podcast. She will be presenting the work in progress during Session One at the VAF Virtual Conference on May 22.

    Bunker Hill Refrain focuses on a neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles that has a deep and storied history. Subdivided in 1867, the neighborhood was originally home to some of Los Angeles’ most distinguished residents. As the city grew towards the west and south, a diverse mix of families, seniors and low-wage workers replaced the early settlers. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, planners and policy makers began to make the case that the area was blighted. With the establishment of the Bunker Hill Urban Redevelopment Project in 1958, the hill and the housing on top of it was demolished to make way for high-rise towers and cultural institutions. Between 6,000 and 9,000 individuals were displaced.

    The aim of the project is to deepen our understanding of the demographics of Bunker Hill by making use of household survey cards compiled by the Works Progress Administration in 1939. These cards contain valuable, and as yet untapped, information about the inhabitants of Bunker Hill dwellings, including their ownership status, length of residence, rent, and race or ethnicity. During the project’s first phase, researchers have culled a data set of approximately 5,000 cards that reflect the boundaries of the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project area. Because much of the data was hand-written, the WPA cards need to be manually transcribed. This is a time-consuming process that requires hundreds of staff hours. To address this challenge, the project team will crowdsource the data transcription using ZOONIVERSE, an online platform designed to support and encourage Citizen Science – the voluntary participation of members of the general public to describe and analyze scientific data. It is a pioneering tool in a library and public history context.

  • 15 May 2021 9:10 AM | Christine R Henry

    In April, VAF board member Zachary Violette received the Society of Architectural Historian's Spiro Kostof award for the publication of his book The Decorated Tenement: How Immigrant Builders and Architects Transformed the Slum in the Gilded Age. This award was established in 1993 at the Society's Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, in recognition of Spiro Kostof's extraordinarily productive and inspiring career that was ended by his premature death in December 1991. In the spirit of Kostof's writings, the award will be given to interdisciplinary studies of urban history that make the greatest contribution to our understanding of the growth and development of cities.

  • 15 May 2021 9:05 AM | Christine R Henry
    VAF member Carla Yanni has been promoted to Distinguished Professor, Art History Department, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
  • 15 May 2021 9:00 AM | Christine R Henry

    Storied Spaces: Renewing Folkloristic Perspectives on Vernacular Architecture.  A Special Issue of Material Culture Review/Revue de la culture materielle (Volume 90-91, Fall 2019/Spring 2020). Read the issue here.

    Editors: Michael J. Chiarappa and Gabrielle A. Berlinger

    Articles by: Elijah Gaddis, Puja Sahney, Gloria M. Colom Brana, Meghann E. Jack, Michael J. Chiarappa, Thomas Carter

    Interviews with: Robert Blair St. George, Michael Ann Williams, Bernard L. Herman, Gerald L. Pocius, Henry Glassie

    At the 2018 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference in Alexandria, Virginia, Michael Ann Williams organized a panel that sought to re-affirm the role of folkloristic approaches to the study of vernacular architecture. In the papers that were presented, and in the comments that were delivered by Gerald Pocius, it was clear that the distinguishing features of folkloristic inquiry—the relevance of place and region, the primacy of fieldwork and ethnographic rigor, and recognition of a building’s capacity to communicate cultural values—still hold a grip on the field. But an acute consciousness of these tenets, and their connection to the tradition of folkloristic inquiry, has been decidedly quiet in recent years.

    Encouraged by Thomas Carter and Gerald Pocius, and further supported by Richard MacKinnon in his former capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Material Culture Review/Revue de la culture materielle, a variety of folkloristic approaches to vernacular architecture have been assembled in a special issue of the journal dedicated solely to the topic (Vol. 90-91, Fall 2019-Spring 2020). Accompanying the articles are insightful interviews with Henry Glassie, Robert B. St. George, Gerald Pocius, Michael Ann Williams, and Bernard Herman. For VAF members, the special issue contextualizes how the study of vernacular architecture assumed a compellingly new place in North American folkloristics amidst the expanding scope of historical and cultural inquiry of the 1960s and still exerts its influence today. While the very source material we categorize as “vernacular architecture” was well entrenched among those who studied North America’s architectural history and regional cultures, it can be said—with certain authority—that folkloristic handling of built environments instituted a wave of methodological and interpretive perspectives that then, and now, ripple well-beyond the folklorist’s immediate disciplinary boundaries. In calling for renewed attention to folkloristic approaches to vernacular architecture, the collection of articles and interviews emphasize how the folklorist’s artifact-centered and artifact-driven approaches resonate in an interdisciplinary mix with historians, architectural historians, historic preservationists, anthropologists, geographers, and museologists.

    To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (2019), this special issue of Material Culture Review highlights the role that folklorists have played in vernacular architecture studies in the United States. How did folklorists contribute a distinctive approach to the study of commonplace structures and landscapes as the field was emerging, and how are new generations of folklorists offering critical perspectives today? This collection of essays is the culmination of academic panels and roundtable discussions that folklorists convened at the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF), the American Folklore Society (AFS), and the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) between 2015 and 2018. The impetus to host these reflective conversations was a collective concern: “Where have all the folklorists gone?,” we asked at the VAF, and “Where are all the vernacular architecture scholars?,” we pondered at the AFS. As a result, established and emerging scholars whose work bridged the two fields came to the table at each conference to examine the historic overlap of folklore and vernacular architecture studies, to consider how these fields have distinguished themselves over the past 40 years, and to envision their future contributions to the invaluable study of our surroundings.  

    Grounded in ethnographic methodology, folklorists draw upon deep engagement with individual builders and users of vernacular spaces, in addition to closely documenting material forms. The merging of discourse-based analysis with formal object study allows for a complex interpretation of both sense of self and sense of place. This relationship-driven and object-based approach reveals how people design and read their physical surroundings in relation to their histories, current conditions, and aspirations. Rather than define a boundary between the fields of folklore and vernacular architecture studies, therefore, this collection illuminates the interdisciplinary roots that bridge the two pursuits and investigates how the diverse methods of adjacent disciplines such as cultural geography, anthropology, philosophy, art history, and history became synthesized in folkloristic training to create a particular approach to the study of vernacular architecture.

    In this volume, readers will discover research and writing that demonstrates how close listening, deep fieldwork, attention to interior spaces as well as exterior structures, affective experience, and the interpretation of built environments through the lenses of gender and race in addition to class, all define the folkloristic approach.

  • 15 May 2021 8:50 AM | Christine R Henry

    The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC-SEAC) will hold its first digital conference Architecture in the Clouds: 46th Annual Conference May 27-June 1.

    The program and registration details posted on the conference webpage.

  • 15 May 2021 8:45 AM | Christine R Henry
    The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH/MDR) is dedicated to open and informed advocacy for the built environment in the Pacific Northwest, while celebrating and promoting the people and cultures that shape and preserve it. 

    The Marion Dean Ross Chapter invites applications for the Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Awards. The goal of this award program is to further awareness and knowledge of the architectural heritage of the Pacific Northwest. The chapter will provide limited funds for focused projects that increase understanding of the region’s built environment and produce tangible results (including articles, books, oral histories, podcasts, local exhibitions, etc.) that can be made available for interested scholars and students. 

    • Awards are available to members of the chapter (please note the student membership is free). 
    • Award amounts shall be no less than $500.00 and no greater than $2,000.00. 
    • The Executive Committee of the chapter shall review applications and determine recipient(s) of the award(s). 
    • Criteria for acceptance include a realistic scope and timeline, as well as demonstration of a strong, original research question. 
    • Current CV highlighting relevant education and experience.

    Successful recipient(s) of award(s) shall present a summary of work to the membership at the annual meeting of the chapter following completion of the project. 

    • Deadline for submission of application – May 30, 2021. 
    • Date for awarding of grants – June 14, 2021. 

    Please use the following format when applying for the award: 
    1. NAME of applicant with full contact information. 
    2. PROJECT NAME: A short descriptive title for the project. 
    3. DESCRIPTION: Briefly describe the project, including the genesis, purpose, and need. Explain its contribution to the understanding of architecture in the Pacific Northwest. If site specific, describe location. 
    4. PRODUCT: Describe specific anticipated results of the project including, if applicable, quantity, users, accessibility, educational benefits or other pertinent information. Describe how Marion Dean Ross Chapter support will be acknowledged. 
    5. TIME FRAME: State the estimated length of time to complete the project with anticipated beginning and end dates. 
    6. AMOUNT: Specify the amount of money being requested. State the total amount to complete the project. If the amount requested from the Marion Dean Ross Chapter is less than the total, indicate how the remainder will be raised, so that the completion of the project is assured. 
    7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Successful applicants will be invited to report on their use of the award at a meeting of the Marion Dean Ross Chapter or in one of its publications. Any research project funded fully or in part by the chapter should acknowledge this support in print or verbally, as appropriate. A product (either digital or physical) resulting from chapter support should be deposited in the Marion Dean Ross Chapter Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. 

    Please submit the application to the chapter president via email (as an attached file) or surface mail. Include contact information – address, phone number(s), email address – with a cover letter or email message.

    2019-2021 Chapter President: Dr. Amanda Roth Clark, 300 W. Hawthorne Rd., Spokane, WA 99251, 509-777-4482, amandaclark@whitworth.edu 

  • 15 May 2021 8:30 AM | Christine R Henry

    The Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania invites applications for a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship in the area of public history and the built environment within the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. The fellow will be expected to teach two courses during the academic year of August 2021 to May 2022 and through their research contribute to scholarship and public programming at the school. We are particularly interested in candidates who can teach in the subject areas of American architectural history and theories and methods of public history (especially as related to historic preservation and the construction of heritage). 

    The fellowship is open to all scholars, national and international, who have received their PhD up to three years prior to August 2021.  We encourage applications from candidates who: are interested in advancing questions in public history at the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, indigenousness, sexuality, and economic inequality; are applying innovative methods in their teaching, research and scholarship; have demonstrated scholarly and/or professional engagement with the historic preservation field. 

    More Info/Apply 

  • 15 May 2021 8:30 AM | Christine R Henry

    Summer 2021 (Modified)[i] Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School

    Dates: July 6—August 7, 2021

    The BLC Field School is a nationally recognized award-winning project that combines immersive learning with civic engagement. The Field School welcomes the participation of members of the community, and it is open to anyone who is interested and can make a full-time commitment (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm) over five weeks. Students are eligible to receive academic credit for the Field School, which may be taken as an Independent Study (3 cr) or Internship (3 cr).  

    Websites: Thefieldschool.weebly.com; MKEEJlab.weebly.com

    For further information, please contact Arijit Sen at senA@uwm.edu

    What will be the focus of the 2021 field school?

    Our goal is to write urban histories that reflect the lived realities of people in Milwaukee’s marginalized and segregated neighborhoods.  In Summer 2021 we will examine community spaces such as streets, sidewalks, alleys, open spaces, gardens, empty lots, and parks. These are sites where community members sustain human relationships and practice mutual aid and self-care. Using methods such as material culture and architectural documentation, history harvests, short and long form oral histories, community led walks, asset mapping, and spatial ethnography, we will document the geography, layout, and stories of everyday life in these spaces.

    During the 5-week period, we will learn the following:

    1. Current thinking on concepts such as “black ecologies” and feminist practices of “radical care.”
    2. We will learn how to interview people and will interview selected community residents.
    3. We will learn how to observe and map physical spaces.
    4. We will learn and practice other ethnographic methods such as community led walks and history harvests.
    5. We will search the archives in innovative ways to find underrepresented stories.
    6. We will examine how local community knowledge about place, environment and ecology is produced, nurtured, and passed down to the next generation and how we as scholars can help archive and preserve these forms of knowledge.
    7. Finally, we will plan and stage a final event in August that will include a walk through the neighborhood with stations where we will present our findings.

    Detailed Schedule

    Meeting times: M-F 9AM-4PM

    Location: Washington Park Week 1-2; SARUP Week 3-5

    Week 1; July 6-9: Workshops and preparation

    Week 2; July 12-16: Oral History and ethnographic data collection

    Week 3; July 19-23: Archives and continue ethnographic data collection

    Week 4: July 26-30: Analysis and dissemination

    Week 5: August 2-6: Dissemination and Final events

    August 7, 2021: Final event

    [i] The summer 2021 field school is modified to ensure all pandemic related safety and health precautions. All participants have to be vaccinated.  We will not be entering homes and measuring these spaces.  We will try and keep most of our data collection to the outdoors. All interviews will be held in ventilated spaces and preferably outdoors. Class meetings will take place in large, ventilated spaces. All safety precautions, social distancing, and masking will be followed by all participants at all times.

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