Tag Archives: Memory

Member of the Week: Patricia Ploehn

4y6a6631Patricia Ploehn  

Senior, Honors College, College of Charleston

Double major in Historic Preservation and Art History, minor in Southern Studies

Describe your current research. What about it drew your interest? 

I am currently involved in two different research projects! I am continuing my research on the interpretation of monuments by seeking out more contentious monuments here in South Carolina, particularly ones located in Columbia and Charleston. I feel that the memorial landscapes we exist in should be meeting grounds where people can gather together to discuss controversial topics with open hearts and minds, and I believe that I have a responsibility to my community to use my passion for art and preservation to open up this discussion and keep it flowing. I am also currently working on research for my Senior Seminar course that pertains to the topic of Utopias, specifically Modernist ideas about reform in both societal and architectural ways. I am especially interested in Bruno Taut and his glass architecture and the idea of purposeful yet beautiful utopian spaces.

What urban history-related courses are you currently taking? How are they supporting your work on your bachelor’s essay?

I am currently taking a Historic Preservation course on Preservation and Community Planning: Contemporary Planning Issues that tackles the topics of contemporary development, sustainability, and climate. I believe it is vital that we understand what development looks like when faced with increasing high-impact weather events and how we can change our policies and development standards to better fit the historic urban fabric we already have. Sustaining our historic buildings and preparing the urban areas around us for various changes in climate ties in directly with the idea of living in a utopian space: what we want our future cities to look like, and how can we change the cities we exist in now to allow our populations to thrive sustainably.

What books or articles have you read recently that made an impression?

I recently read a short article describing the work of photographer Jessica Ingram and her project Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial that documents historically significant locations throughout the South. Ingram is featured in the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibition SOUTHBOUND, an exhibition of 21st century Southern photography here in Charleston, and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the exhibition and see her work up close. After viewing the photographs on display, I went to her website and scrolled through all of the Road to Midnight photos and read the descriptions. Her work is heartbreakingly beautiful, depicting landscapes of fields, roads, and houses that hold deeper, darker histories of racial violence. I find it so compelling that calm landscapes like the ones Ingram photographs can have silent histories that no one notices; it makes me see the landscape of Charleston differently, and I find myself pausing often to wonder about the hidden histories in my own city.

What advice do you have for undergraduate students preparing a thesis project or seminar paper related to urban history or urban studies?

I would offer this advice: keep an open mind! Find what you are passionate about and dive deeper into it. Be open to your professors about your passions, and they will definitely push you in directions you never thought you’d go. There are so many facets of urban history that have yet to be fully explored! Try looking into subjects you normally wouldn’t and combining those subjects with what you’re passionate about. I never thought I could combine my love for preservation and my fascination with architectural memorial forms, but here we are! When it comes to preparing for a thesis or seminar presentation, I would say that practicing your presentation is a very important aspect. Getting comfortable with the material is one thing, but even just knowing when to breathe and make eye contact with your audience is something else entirely!

What do you hope the next stage or season of your life looks like? Any big (or small) goals?

I know that the next season of life for me includes some very big changes, including graduating from college, finding housing here in Charleston, and most importantly finding a job in the preservation field! I know that through all of these changes, though, I will be able to maintain my friendships here in Charleston and also continue in my passions. I want my life to be focused on spreading hope in my community through projects that directly address issues in preservation, conservation, and urban development.

CFP for UC-Berkeley: Landscapes of Memory

The Metropole digs symposiums. Who doesn’t? Recently, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative (a joint venture between the UC Berkeley Arts & Humanities Division of the College of Letters & Science and the College of Environmental Design) contacted the UHA about its upcoming two day symposium: Techniques of Memory: Landscape, Iconoclasm, Medium, and Power.  Needless to say, we see plenty of opportunity for urbanists so check out the CFP below!

CFSAAA – Call for Scholars, Artists, Architects and Activists

Techniques of Memory

Landscape, Iconoclasm, Medium and Power

Before WWII Robert Musil famously claimed that there was nothing in this world as invisible as a monument. Musil, alongside critics like Lewis Mumford, was determined to disclose the inability of the monument to adapt itself to modern times. Yet, recent events in Charlottesville, and New Orleans are only one of many signs that Musil might have been mistaken: monuments and memorials can be easily awakened to cause local politics and streets to burst into flames. While old monuments are falling, new memorials get erected at heightened speed. The distance between an injustice, tragedy, or deed, and its memorialization seems to be rapidly decreasing.

The groundbreaking literature on the field of memorialization, which includes classics like Maurice Halbwachs’s On Collective Memory, Pierre Nora’s Liex de Memoire, James Young’s The Texture of Memory, Andreas Huyssen’s Twilight Memories, _________dealt with a historical phenomenon rooted in the 80s and heightened by anxieties about the new millennium. Almost two decades later its seems pressing to reassess the role that memory and its physical manifestations ­–memorials, monuments, plaques, calendars, photographs, xxx– play in our contemporary world. The 2019 Global Urban Humanities conference, Techniques of Memory, invites scholars, artists, architects, and activists to submit abstracts that analyze memorialization as a historical phenomenon, discuss the contemporary role of memorials, and examine the changing role of memory in diverse geographical areas and historical periods.

The Global Urban Humanities Initiative is a joint venture between the UC Berkeley Arts & Humanities Division of the College of Letters & Science and the College of Environmental Design. Thanks to the vision and support of the Mellon Foundation, it brings together scholars and practitioners from the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, city and regional planning, and multiple humanities disciplines – ranging from comparative literature and history of art, to theater, dance and performance studies. Together, faculty and graduate students are developing new theoretical paradigms, research methods, and pedagogical approaches in order to help address the complex problems facing today’s global cities and regions.

Techniques of Memory: Landscape, Iconoclasm, Medium and Power will be a two-day symposium organized by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative at UC Berkeley, from April 17th to 18th 2019 at the Brower Center in Downtown Berkeley. Following the principles of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, our symposium seeks to bring together not only scholars, but practitioners, activists and artist to think about monuments, memorial landscapes, iconoclasm, mediums and materiality, as well as memory politics and power from the unique interdisciplinary standpoint that this platform provides. The symposium will consist of four panels: Landscape, Iconoclasm, Medium and Power. We ask submissions to reference which of the four panels they would like to be considered for:

  1. Landscape: Contributions that engage with what could be largely defined as memorial landscapes: geographies of memory, geopolitics of memorials, as well as memorials in specific social and cultural contexts. Design interventions, scholarly examinations, activism projects and community appropriation examples are all encouraged to participate.
  2. Iconoclasm: Contributions that engage with the destruction, removal, intervention, mobility and stasis, re-appropriation, and re-signification of monuments and memorials. Scholarly contributions, architectural designs, artistic interventions, performance works and new media approaches are encouraged to participate.
  3. Medium: Contributions that examine the materiality, production, and labor of memory and memorials. Scholarly contributions, architectural designs, artistic interventions, performance works and new media approaches are encouraged to participate.
  4. Power: Contributions that engage with politics and institutions of memory, race and memory, gender and memory, debates around postcolonial memorialization, as well as struggles for recognition and reparation. Design interventions, scholarly examinations, activism projects and community appropriation examples are all encouraged to participate.

Additionally, keynote speakers Austin Allen (New Orleans), Jason Berry (New Orleans), Lauren Kroiz (Berkeley), Marita Sturken (New York), Hans van Houwelingen (Amsterdam), will each contribute to one of the four themes of the conference and will serve as respondents to the delivered papers.

Submissions should include the following:

–       Contact information (name and email)

–       Institutional affiliation and/or address

–       Title of contribution

–       Type of contribution (paper, performance, artist talk, design talk)

–       Preferred panel (landscape, iconoclasm, medium or power)

–       Abstract (300 words)

–       CV (no more than 4 pages)

Selected papers will be supported to present their contributions at the symposium with $800 for travel and lodging expenses for presenters from outside California, and $400 for presenters travelling from within California.

The deadline for submissions is December 20th, 2018.


Symposium Organizing Committee:

Susan Moffat – Global Urban Humanities Project Director,

Anna Brand – Landscape Architecture Department;

Sarah Hwang – Global Urban Humanities Program coordinator,

Valentina Rozas-Krause – Architecture Department

Andrew Shanken –Architecture Department;

Bryan Wagner – English Department