Positions #4 - Architectures of Architecture

Claire Zimmerman, Guest Editor; Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Editor; Cor Wagenaar, Editor

Call for Papers
Deadline: 15 September 2010

Positions: On Modern Architecture + Urbanism / Histories + Theories

How has twentieth-century architecture been affected by quasi-invisible infrastructures that organize the profession and its pedagogy? This issue of Positions seeks research articles and essays that investigate the administrative practices that underpinned modern architecture and urbanism. These practices, often critical to the production of modern environments, have remained largely in the background of historical accounts. Positions #4 seeks to elucidate the intentionally invisible or merely partially concealed forces that underwrote modernism as a common endeavor—the connective tissue, as it were, between a set of disparate and geographically diffuse experiments. Scholars have turned to such practices with increasing frequency in recent years; we seek to bring together disparate investigations here, to draw connections and distinctions between them.

Topics of study might range from the activities of state authorities sanctioning particular building or planning practices and financing, to review of the media practices that disseminated ideas and established architectural celebrity. They might include monographic investigations of shadowy figures oiling the machinery of the profession behind the scenes, or studies of more outspoken champions of modern architecture (the PR men and women of emergent professional practices). Articles might focus on activities within architectural schools that intersected in significant ways with professional practice, or on the congresses, exhibitions, films, manifestos, and performances (many of them itinerant slide lectures) that provided banners under which modern architects, designers, and urban planners gathered to proclaim victories nevertheless never quite within reach. What will link these disparate studies in the context of this issue is a focus on the avenues by which architects came to the point of executing important commissions—in other words, infrastructures of architecture that were intended to produce new buildings or planning programs, and that constitute an alternative history of building itself. “Architectures of Architecture” seeks to reconsider what is defined as visible work within the production of modern architecture and urbanism in the twentieth century. The role of “producer” is well defined in the culture of film and theater, but ill defined in the stagecraft of architecture.
Nevertheless, extensive work in architectural history, particularly in the last twenty years, has clarified the degree to which modern architecture was organized by and through public polemics that were linked to a variety of motivating forces, whether economic, cultural, or political.

The strategic deployment of publicity and propaganda affected the distribution of important commissions and the conditions under which they could be executed, as well as the overall demand from public and private clients. Articles might look at the extensions of the Werkbund, the Bauhaus (in pre- and postwar iterations) or CIAM, at the circulation of journals, at little-understood figures like Ise Gropius, Lucia Moholy, Mia Seeger, Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, or Monica Pidgeon, at the itineraries traced by influential exhibitions, at serial publications with specific polemical intent, such as Oppositions or Contropiano, at the impact of clients from enterprises such as Columbus, Indiana, to the Guggenheim.

Positions is a peer-reviewed journal that is broadening the scope of reflection and theory on architecture and urbanism after 1900. Authors are asked to submit papers to the editors, preferably in English, by 15 September 2010. Papers should range from 5,000-7,500 words, and should include complete citations in the form of endnotes. They should be accompanied by no more than ten images. If a paper is accepted for publication, the author will be responsible for obtaining publishing rights. Please refer to the attached submission guidelines for further instructions.

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Positions: On Modern Architecture + Urbanism/Histories + Theories

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