By William A. Gleason
Sites Unseen examines the complicated intertwining of race and structure in 19th and early-twentieth century American tradition, the interval not just within which American structure got here of age professionally within the U.S. but in addition within which principles approximately structure grew to become a well-liked a part of broader conversations approximately American tradition, heritage, politics, and—although we haven't but understood this clearly—race relatives. This wealthy and copiously illustrated interdisciplinary research explores the ways in which American writing among approximately 1850 and 1930 involved itself, frequently intensely, with the racial implications of architectural house essentially, yet now not solely, via household architecture.
In addition to picking an archive of provocative basic fabrics, Sites Unseen attracts considerably on vital contemporary scholarship in a number of fields starting from literature, historical past, and fabric tradition to structure, cultural geography, and concrete making plans. jointly the chapters interrogate numerous expressive American vernacular varieties, together with the dialect story, the radical of empire, letters, and pulp tales, in addition to the plantation cabin, the West Indian cottage, the Latin American plaza, and the “Oriental” parlor. those are a few of the ignored plots and constructions that could and will tell a extra complete attention of the literary and cultural meanings of yankee structure. Making feel of the family members among structure, race, and American writing of the lengthy 19th century—in their neighborhood, nationwide, and hemispheric contexts—Sites Unseen presents a clearer view not just of this catalytic period but in addition extra greatly of what architectural historian Dell Upton has aptly termed the social event of the outfitted environment.
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Additional info for Sites Unseen: Architecture, Race, and American Literature
Had we been less confused and troubled our ride probably would have been pleasant,” Hannah remarks in chapter 7 while being conveyed in chains through the countryside, manacled to her former mistress—also a fugitive—after a foiled escape attempt. ) “The sharp frosty air was clear and bracing, and the sunshine had a warm summer time look, really delightful,” Hannah remarks. “Then, too, the country through which we passed has such a cheerful appearance with rickyards, milestones, farm houses, wagons, swinging signs, horse troughs, trees, fields, fences, and the thousand other things that make a country landscape” (90).
In place of his “usually kind and placid expression,” Mr. . wrinkled with passion, the lips turgid with malevolence” (17). This puzzling change reinforces the splendid/lowly architectural inversion at the heart of the chapter: just at the moment Hannah is most impressed by her owner’s material prestige (“we thought our master must be a very great man to have so much wealth at his command” ), he is flashed forth as a gilded criminal. “It never occurred to us to inquire whose sweat and blood and unpaid labor had contributed to produce [this splendor],” Hannah had pointedly observed at the beginning of the scene (14).
The figure beneath the “White House,” on the other hand—situated directly between the Jewish figure and the Irishman—has the blond curls and delicate features of a stereotypical white American. If Smith’s Pictorial Parlor Oracle depicts architecture as a racial trait, a second popular artifact, the late-century phenomenon known as the scrapbook house (also called house albums, collage albums, or paper doll houses) suggests ways that even the creation of imaginary houses often depended on ingrained ideas about racialized space.
Sites Unseen: Architecture, Race, and American Literature by William A. Gleason