Ball State University (Gregory)

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    Literary Review

    Gregory Dowell
    Sep 29, '08 11:23 PM EST

    Next week I have a 10-page rough draft of my thesis and design project proposal due and part of the requirements is the beginnings of a literary review. So last week I headed to the library and checked out seven books to get me started. I'm sure some will be of great assistance while others will quickly become paperweights until I return them to the library. Along with this early literary review and meetings with a handful of faculty this week, I hope to have a specific question for my thesis when I turn in the draft. But at this point it's still revolving around the general topics of memory, identity and architecture. So here are the books I got from the library. If you've read any please leave your thoughts and comments.

    War and Architecture- Lebbeus Woods
    Monuments and Memory, Made and Unmade- Robert S. Nelson and Margaret Olin
    The Environmental Memory- Malcolm Quantrill
    Architecture and Revolution- Neil Leach
    Up from Zero- Paul Goldberger (I'm more interested in this one as a personal read than necessarily research)
    Munich and Memory- Gavriel D. Rosenfeld
    Modernizing Yazd- Ali Modarres

    As you may surmise from the titles I'm most interested in the destruction of architecture and how such destruction is treated (ruins, rebuilt, etc.) and effects memory and identity. Though there is an entire other category that looks at the modernization of once industrial cities.

    At this point I've only had a chance to really look at the first three titles on the list, and Woods' War and Architecture is really helping me define my design project. In looking at ways to treat damaged or destroyed architecture Woods suggests three treatments: "Injections", "The Scab", and "The Scar".

    Injections make no attempt to reconcile the new with the old. They assert no control over thought or behavior and therefore take on meaning and use as they are inhabited by particular people.

    Scabs on the other hand use the architecture to transform the violence just as the violence transformed the architecture.

    Scars fuse old with new through reconciliation and coalescence without compromising either. They become a mark of pride and honor of what has been lost but also of what has been gained.

    All of this is very interesting as I look for a way to present my thesis as a design project. If anyone has any suggestions for me please put them forward.


    • Courtney Healey

      Not to heap more stuff on you, but you might be interested in this article as well... Goebel, Rolf J., “Berlin’s Architectural Citations: Reconstruction, Simulation, and the Problem of Historical Authenticity,” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America vol. 118, n.5 (October 2003), 1268-1289.

      It has to do with the Germans' love of the “wirklich authentisches Kopie” or "really authentic copy" and how one is supposed to look upon these copies as if they are the "real" "authentic" "original" things...

      I've also picked this book up a number of times at bookstores thinking it will be useful for me because the spine only says "Destruction of Memory" and then I invariably turn it over and see the rest "...Architecture at War" and oh, that book, right, that is not for me... but might be for you "The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War" by Robert Bevan, Reaktion Press, ISBN:1861893191

      Sep 30, 08 3:49 pm  · 

      Thanks Courtney. At this point the more selections I have the chance to peruse the better. I can weed out the less helpful stuff as I go along. Not surprisingly, considering WWII, there is loads of literature about memory, identity, and architecture as relating to Germany. I'll be sure to check it out because that's exactly the type of stuff I'm against.

      I used Bevan's Destruction of Memory extensively in the paper that is the genesis of my thesis. So I'm very familiar with that one.

      I'm guessing you're working on something related to preservation and/or memory/identity if you are looking for books relating to the topic.

      Sep 30, 08 5:40 pm  · 

      So I know very little about architecture, but I do know some stuff on cultural rhetorics, which interestingly, as a discipline has featured considerable discussion of architecture as rhetoric recently.

      I taught "search language" in my 105 class today, so I thought I would monkey around with your topic on google scholar (too lazy right now to delve into databases) and see what I could find.

      2 hits, the second one I am vaguely familiar with.

      1. J.V. Neill's "Memory, Collective Identity, and Urban Design: The Future of Berlin's Palast der Republik"

      2. Nuala C. Johnson's chapter entitled "Public Memory" from A Companion to Cultural Geography.

      Maybe that first hit is obvious and/or flawed; this conversation is outside my realm of specific knowledge.

      I'm not too familiar with what a thesis details outside of the humanities, but I'd think different search language could send you in many directions. Terms in my mind beyond the obvious (memory, identity, and architecture) include "public space," "public sphere," "cultural georgraphy," "cultural memory," and "public memory."

      And, I'd recommend using a citation manager. I know you are an "online" type, so you should check out Zotero (from the Firefox OpenApp family).

      Sep 30, 08 10:18 pm  · 

      When its all boiled down the two main things I want to look at are "culturally significant" buildings and the "collective" or "public" memory/identity associated with them and the treatment of such buildings following damage or destruction.

      Targets of war are most often the "culturally significant" buildings- churches (that's a big one), universities, libraries, monasteries and the like. So the topics of "cultural geography" (I've previously used J.B. Jackson's The Necessity for Ruins), "cultural memory", and "public memory" will definitely be a part of this initial large search.

      So for my best resource has been the works cited and bibliography of the few books I've checked out. Munich and Memory list a handful of books about the city and collective memory. And as I mentioned the best "case studies" are found in post WWII Germany examples.

      The study of the city and how it affects memory and vice versa is a relatively new subject (last 20 years or so) though some break through texts on the subject date back further (40 years). And like most topics within architecture its very controversial.

      Sep 30, 08 11:19 pm  · 

      "poetics of space" is a good one as far as memory is concerned. you should take a look if you haven't already.

      Oct 1, 08 4:39 am  · 

      oh ya, "Ghosts of Berlin" is also good if your interested in the german social identity and their feelings toward history. hope these help.

      Oct 1, 08 4:41 am  · 

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