The jungle in the clearing : space, form and democracy in America, 1940-1949
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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Combining aesthetic theory with theories of the public sphere, this dissertation examines the brief appearance of a publicly empathetic civic realm in the United States during the 1940s. The argument begins with a reevaluation of the debate over monumentality initiated in modernist architectural circles, which included such figures as Sigfried Giedion, Lewis Mumford, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, and Philip Johnson. Centering on the city, this debate recast monumentality in terms more progressive than commemorative; it posited open-ended architectural and urban strategies that offered a non-restrictive yet sympathetic public resonance. If empathy is understood as the viewer's physical and psychological engagement with an object, then the 'publicly empathetic' collects and communicates the public 's individualized engagements. The term 'publicly empathetic' underscores the distinction between totalitarian consensus, exemplified by the modernism of Mussolini's fascist Italy, and what Alexis de Tocqueville identified in 1835 as America's collective individualism, which persisted in the 1940s under the umbrella of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Springboarding from Ernst Cassirer and Susanne Langer's philosophies of symbolic form as unconsummated symbol, I argue that the modernism of this period did not define the public but rather expressed architecture's publicness through the recasting of form, programming, and modernism's public mandate. The chapters of this dissertation examine in turn the texts, projects and urbanism of this empathetic modernism. The projects constituting this realm are both public and private in nature; they include Charles Franklin and ...
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2001."February 2001."Includes bibliographical references (p. 237-248).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology