Monday March 21, 2022

The Global Irish Studies Initiative, the American Studies Program, the MA in Engaged and Public Humanities, and the Department of Art and Art History presented:

Designing for Justice: Modernism and the Transformation of the Capital Region

featuring Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty and Professor Lauren Arrington

This event took place on Monday, March 21 at 5pm ET. This event was held in person at the Mortara Center Conference Room.

A Place for People: Chloethiel Woodard Smith’s vision of Southwest D.C.

Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty’s talk discussed how the postwar redevelopment of Southwest displaced thousands of mostly Black Washingtonians while providing the city with some of the earliest integrated new apartment blocks.  The architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith played a crucial role in its reshaping.  Focusing on designing for an economically and racially diverse public, Smith operated outside the mainstream of the national architectural profession but was for three decades a key figure in the modernization of the capital city.

A historian of modern architecture, Kathleen James-Chakraborty has been a Professor of Art History at UCD since 2007. She has taught at the University of California Berkeley, where she reached the rank of full professor, at the Ruhr University Bochum, where she was a Mercator guest professor, and at the Yale School of Architecture, where she was the Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History. In 2019 she received the Gold Medal in the Humanities from the Royal Irish Academy. James-Chakraborty’s books include Erich Mendelsohn and the Architecture of German Modernism (Cambridge, 1997), German Architecture for a Mass Audience (Routledge, 2000) Architecture since 1400 (Minnesota, 2014; Guangxi, 2017), and Modernism as Memory; Building Identity in the Federal Republic of Germany (Minnesota, 2018).

Establish Justice: Lenore Thomas Straus and the Politics of New Deal Resettlement

Professor Lauren Arrington’s talk focused on the work of Lenore Thomas Straus, who was commissioned to design a series of friezes for the planned town of Greenbelt, Maryland, a flagship project of the New Deal’s Resettlement Administration. Straus, a committed Communist, seized the opportunity to create art that both celebrated the potential of the New Deal and condemned the racist practices at the heart of the Greenbelt project. 

Lauren Arrington joined Maynooth University in 2019, having taught for ten years at the University of Liverpool. Prior to that, she was Adrian Research Fellow in English at Darwin College, Cambridge University. She is a literary critic and cultural historian, and her work concentrates on the intersections of literature and political change in the twentieth century, working across Irish, British, and U.S. writers. Her most recent book is The Poets of Rapallo: how Mussolini’s Italy shaped British, Irish, and U.S. Writers (Oxford University Press, 2021). Her other books include Revolutionary Lives (Princeton University Press, 2016) and W.B. Yeats, the Abbey Theatre, Censorship, and the Irish State (Oxford University Press, 2010). She is currently editing, with Matthew Campbell, the Oxford Handbook of W.B. Yeats (forthcoming 2022), and is editor of Late Modernism and Expatriation (Clemson UP, 2022).