Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America

Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America

A Seminar with Author Dianne Harris and GSAPP's Mabel Wilson


On October 30, 2013, Dianne Harris and Mabel Wilson led a seminar discussion to discuss Harris's book, Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constucted Race in America (UMinn Press, 2012). A rare exploration of the racial and class politics of architecture, the book examines how postwar media representations associated the ordinary single-family house with middle-class whites to the exclusion of others, creating a powerful and invidious cultural iconography that continues to resonate today. Drawing from popular and trade magazines, floor plans and architectural drawings, television programs, advertisements, and beyond, in the book Harris shows how the depiction of houses and their interiors, furnishings, and landscapes shaped and reinforced the ways in which Americans perceived white, middle-class indentities and helped support a housing market already defined by racial segregation and deep economic inequalities.

 

Dianne Harris is Director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Art History, and History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches courses in landscape history, urban/suburban history, and in architectural history. She holds a PhD in Architectural History from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Mabel O. Wilson's transdisciplinary practice Studio & operates between the fields of architecture, art, and cultural history. As the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor, she teaches architectural design and history/theory courses at Columbia University’s GSAPP and is appointed as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies. She has authored “Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums” (University of California Press 2012). She holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia’s GSAPP and a Ph.D in American Studies from NYU.

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