Undergraduate Activities: Congratulations to our 2020 graduates!

Art History faculty, students, and families celebrate the graduates with a Zoom toast on May 17, 2020.

  The Art History department congratulates this year’s graduating BA students!

Alyssa Abesamis

Denilson Alvarez

Jess Brody

Nathan Goldberg

Aliza Hornblass

Emily Jelen

Nikhil Jani

Veronica Liszewski

Claire McLagan

Thomas Pellegrino

Caelum Rogers

Kelly Ryan

John James Santiago

Dissertation defense: Hyeok Cho

Lee Bul, Mon grand récit—Weep into stones …, 2005.

DEPARTMENT OF ART HISTORY

Dissertation defense
Hyeok Cho, PhD candidate
“Can the Subaltern Artist Speak? Postmodernist Theory, Feminist Practice, and the Art of Lee Bul
Committee members: John Tagg (advisor), Kevin Hatch, Tom McDonough, Sonja Kim (Asian and Asian American Studies; outside examiner)
Thursday, May 7 at 9:00 a.m. by Zoom
This defense is open to the public, however a password is required to attend. The password will circulate in a separate email to department faculty and graduate students, but may also be requested directly from John Tagg or Hyeok Cho.

Nancy Um in Manuscript Studies

Nancy Um’s new article, “Yemeni Manuscripts Online: Digitization in an Age of War and Loss,” has been published in Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies 5.1 (Spring 2020): 1-44. It is available on Project Muse (free until June 30): https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/42257. The article’s digital component is available at: http://bit.ly/YMDIbytheNumbers
Abstract: In 2013, a corpus of manuscripts from Yemen became openly accessible to the public through the Princeton University Digital Library portal. Numbering around 250 codices, most were digitized and cataloged from three private collections held in Yemen, under the auspices of the Yemeni Manuscript Digitization Initiative (YMDI), a scholarly network that was underpinned by institutional support from the Princeton University Library and Freie Universität Berlin. This article delves into the YMDI project, as a significant case study, with the goal of considering how this group of digital surrogates functions as an online collection, rather than viewing the Princeton portal as a transparent access point for these manuscripts or examining any of the YMDI volumes or their contents individually. Mass digitization projects are often sketched as efforts of “salvage,” focusing on issues of both preservation and accessibility. By contrast, here, it is asserted that the meaning and significance of these manuscripts have not been sustained through the act of digitization, but rather transformed, particularly amidst Yemen’s current unstable political situation. It is hoped that this article will provide a critical backdrop to the YMDI collection, by situating the cultural act of digitization historically, thereby helping users to understand these collections more substantively and inspiring us to think critically about how and why we digitize historic manuscripts in a precarious contemporary world.

Julia Walker at the Society of Architectural Historians

Julia Walker will be presenting a paper today as part of the panel The Problems and Potentials of Architectural Biography at the annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians, to be held virtually this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just AM!”: Brigitte D’Ortschy, Architecture, and Zen

In 2019, the biographer Robert Caro published his memoirs, reflecting on a career spent exploring the lives of fixers and kingmakers. For a successful biography, Caro avows, “you have to choose the right man.” With titles like The Power Broker (describing Robert Moses) and The Path to Power (referring to Lyndon B. Johnson), Caro’s oeuvre makes clear that the very terms of biography are individualist, public, political, powerful—and, perhaps above all, male.

Given the deep roots of these biases within the genre of biography, how might we understand the life of the German architect Brigitte D’Ortschy? Born and trained in Berlin, in 1950 D’Ortschy spent several months at a retraining program for German architects at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During this program, she was most affected by a lecture delivered to the group by Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1953, Wright invited her to become an apprentice at Taliesin West. After a year at Taliesin, D’Ortschy moved permanently to Japan to study Zen Buddhism, eventually becoming the first Zen master from Germany. Though she is well known to scholars of Zen, she is virtually unknown in the history of architecture, despite her prolific career as an architect and planner.

D’Ortschy’s fascinating life thus engages a number of biography’s methodological ambivalences—first in the context of her status as a woman in architecture, with its masculinist history of heroic self-fashioning through biographical performance (of which Wright may be the exemplar); and second in the context of Zen, with its simultaneous belief in both the illusoriness and the essentiality of the self. Though D’Ortschy’s spiritual exploration led her away from contemplating her life’s details, allowing her to declare, “I just AM!,” the truth, biographically speaking, proves more complex.