Public History: Theory and Practice
Wunsch & Keim
This graduate seminar explores ways of bringing histories of place before the public. It is required for Preservation students wishing to concentrate in this area (for whom HSPV 600 is a prerequisite) but is relevant to historians, designers, curators, and critical observers of all stripes. More than conventional public history courses, this one focuses on the built environment. It grapples with the tangible ways individuals, communities, and nations remember and forget. It acknowledges that while buildings and landscapes are in one sense simply larger forms of material culture than furniture or other objects, they also “work” differently by dint of being inhabited and publicly encountered, forming de facto frameworks for private and public life. Our coursework foregrounds interpretation and dissemination through multiple media – everything from signage and monuments to websites and exhibits. It is not, however, an introduction to the technical deployment of those media but a chance to reflect critically on their respective strengths and weaknesses in different contexts. In addition to discussing readings in history, historic preservation, sociology, anthropology, geography, and public art, students will design and conduct original research projects involving: • interviews with Philadelphians from diverse backgrounds about their experiences of various urban landscapes; • archival research involving architecture, city and regional planning, urban infrastructure, civic culture, and historical commemoration; and • conceptual design of monuments, installations, public events, and other forms of commemoration. Field trips will ground class discussions in the present-day fabric of Philadelphia while guest speakers will acquaint us with a variety of institutional and disciplinary perspectives.
The course surveys and critically engages the field of cultural landscape studies. Over the semester, we will explore cultural landscape as a concept, theory and model of preservation and design practice; we will read cultural landscape historiography and creative non-fiction; we will examine a range of types (national parks, community gardens, designed landscapes, informal public spaces), and we will map the alternative preservation, planning and design methods that ground cultural landscape studies practically. Readings, class discussions, and projects will draw on cultural geography, environmental history, vernacular architecture, ecology, art, and writing.
This course addresses the subject of deterioration of buildings, their materials, assemblies and systems, with the emphasis on the technical aspects of the mechanisms of deterioration and their enabling factors, material durability and longevity of assemblies. Details of construction and assemblies are analyzed relative to functional and performance characteristics. Lectures cover: concepts in durability; climate; psychrometric, soils & hydrologic; conditions; physics of moisture in buildings; enclosure, wall and roof systems; structural systems; and building services systems with attention to performance, deterioration, and approaches to evaluation of remedial interventions.
Hinchman, Gray & Elliot
Documentation, Research, Recording II. This course provides an introduction to the survey and recording of historic buildings and sites. Techniques of recording include traditional as well as digitally-based methods including field survey, measured drawings, photography and rectified photography. Emphasis is placed on the use of appropriate recording tools in the context of a thorough understanding of the historical significance, form and function of sites. Required for first-year MSHP students; others by permission.
According to one line of thought, Americans have never really looked backward. Lured by the promise of a New World whose inhabitants they ignored or exterminated, European settlers fixated on religious liberty and material prosperity, on movement and freedom rather than memory. The result was an amnesiac culture, unmoored from the past, dwelling in the present, and living for the future. A sometimes‐related view is that Americans have turned their backs on death. Whether ignoring our graveyards or embalming our loved ones, we have never really come to terms with the passage of time, the processes of decay, the natural cycle that governs creation. As it turns out, each of these indictments is over 150 years old. During the first third of the 19th century, concerns over bodily security, public sanitation, and the social consequences of urbanization prompted broad discussions about the proper ways of handling the dead. Could their presence be reconciled with the growth of cities? Did corpses of all classes, races, and creeds deserve commemoration and protection? Was the past a personal, a local, or a national matter? Could one speak of “public ancestors”? Did private property and the market economy constitute threats to the deceased or their most reliable safeguards? Was tourism desirable or degrading? And should monument design emphasize form or text, individual biography or collective identity, permanence or a return to nature? Related questions now animate the fields of historic preservation and public history. But the roots of such thinking in a specific historical moment are significant and we will touch on them in our class. The New World quest for fixity in place and time – for buildings and as well as for bodies – dates to about fifty years after the Revolution. One manifestation was the rise of the American urban cemetery (as distinct from the churchyard and the potter’s field). Since cemeteries were among the first places where the values of historic preservation were articulated, we have a special opportunity to examine present‐day practices and precepts in critical‐historical perspective. Surveying American burial places and attitudes towards death from the colonial era to our own, we will apply insights from our readings and discussions to modern‐day preservation problems. Preservation of the Historic American Cemetery requires that preservation professionals have skills in historical research, documentation and significance determination and facilitation of many competing interests, and sometimes, difficult stakeholders. Tours and guest lectures will help us understand the challenges posed by particular sites and conditions. We will take advantage of our proximity to Woodlands Cemetery (1840) by exploring that site in depth.
Heritage and Social Justice
How do historic preservation and other design and humanities professionals contribute to more equitable and just societies? How can our work be organized to result in greater equity, access and social justice? This seminar will explore connections between heritage, historic preservation (and related design, planning and artistic practices) and the pursuit of social justice. Our investigations will focus on both conceptual and theoretical constructions (how we think about built heritage and social change; how we conceptualize social justice) and practical examples of advancing social outcomes through preservation and design. We'll draw on work by: geographers, anthropologists and other social scientists and theorists; historians; public intellectuals; design practitioners; heritage organizations; artists; and more. Subjects will include public interest design, creative placemaking, public art, memorialization, and methods of practice and institutional organization; cases will be drawn from the US and abroad. The course will progress through a series of weekly topics, often including guest practitioners and scholars. Students will have significant agency in helping flesh out the topics and cases; final projects (individual and group) will be envisioned as a statement (in the form of a book or exhibit) of how social justice concerns have reshaped practice and how they could reshape our fields in the future.
The primary objective is to prepare the student, as a practicing preservationist, to understand the language of the development community, to make the case through feasibility analysis why a preservation project should be undertaken, and to be able to quantify the need for public/non-profit intervention in the development process. A second objective is to acquaint the student with measurements of the economic impact of historic preservation and to critically evaluate "economic hardship" claims made to regulatory bodies by private owners.
Digital Media (First Half of The Semester Only)
A required praxis course designed for students to further explore the techniques and applications of digital media for visual and textual communication. Techniques will be discussed for preservation use including survey, documentation, relational databases, and digital imaging and modeling.
Theories(Second Half Of The Semester Only)
Theories of historic preservation serve as models for practice, integrating the humanistic, artistic, design, scientific and political understandings of the field. HSPV 661 builds on HSPV 660, which examines the historical evolution of historic preservation, reviews theoretical frameworks and issues, and explores current modes of practice. HSPV 661 engages advanced topics such as cultural landscape theory, economics of preservation, sustainability and environmental conservation, social justice, and urban design. In addition to readings and lectures, case studies from contemporary practice will be used to examine theories in practice. The principal assignment will be short position papers. Students from outside the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation are welcome; instructor's permission is required for any non-HSPV student. (Note that the course is the second of two parts; the first half, on the basics of preservation theory is taught in the fall semester.)
Historic Preservation Law
Introduction to the legal mechanisms used to protect historic resources in the built environment, focusing on the legal principles underlying preservation laws, including constitutional issues relating to governmental regulation of real property, as well as federal, state and local historic preservation laws.
Topical Seminar, Urban Regeneration In The Americas: The Conservation And Development Of Urban Heritage Areas
This advanced topic seminar will focus on the challenges confronted by the conservation and urban planning professions in turning the urban heritage into a social and economic development resource for cities in developing countries. The preservation of the urban heritage is moving to a new paradigm of intervention responding to: a growing interest in communities for preserving their intangible and tangible urban heritage; rising development pressures on historic neighborhoods; the generalization of adaptive rehabilitation as a conservation strategy; and recent international agreements calling for expanding the role of the urban heritage in the social and economic development of the communities. This is a problem that is in the cutting edge of the research and practice of heritage conservation and urban planning and has conservation, planning and design implications making it ideally suited to a multi-discipline seminar approach. The course is modeled on successful 1-CU spring seminars conducted in recent years—the Gordion Site Planning Studio (2011), Parks for the People (2012), and the Regeneration of Historic Areas in the Americas (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)—that attracted students from across the School and fit easily with core studios and thesis projects. Students from multiple departments are encouraged to participate in the course; enrollment will be kept to about 12. The course will combine seminar and field study methodologies in ways that they support each other. The knowledge acquired through the seminar work will be put to use in a field study exercise whose objective is to allow the students to work on topics of their interest and pursue research or urban development and heritage conservation interventions for expanding the contribution of the historic center of Cartagena in Colombia to the social and economic development of the city.
Thesis Workshop II
Students are admitted to thesis after completion of two semesters or their equivalent in the graduate program. Theses should be based on original research and relate to each student's elected concentration. Thesis guidelines, available in the Historic Preservation office, describe other details.
Conservation Seminar: Wood
Prior to the twentieth century, most structures found in the built environment relied upon wood as a primary material for both structural members and decorative features. An understanding of the physical properties as well as the historic application of this organic material provides the basis for formulating solutions for a wide spectrum of conversation issues. As the scope of preserving wooden structures and wooden architectural elements is continually broadened, new methods and technology available to the conservator together allow for an evolving program - one that is dependent upon both consistent review of treatments and more in-depth study of craft traditions. This course seeks to illustrate and address material problems typically encountered by stewards of wooden cultural heritage - among them structural assessment, bio-deterioration, stabilization and replication techniques. Through a series of lectures and hands-on workshops given by representative professionals from the fields of wood science, conservation, entomology, engineering, and archaeology, theoretical and practical approaches to retaining wooden materials will be examined with the goal to inform the decision-making process of future practicing professionals.
Conservation Seminar: Finishes
The seminar will advance students’ knowledge of and skills at researching, analyzing and interpreting historic architectural finishes. Lectures, demonstrations, hands-on exercises, case studies, and site visits will consider the history, technology, analysis, deterioration, and treatment of historic finishes. Guest lecturers will enlarge the subject with discussion and demonstrations of archival research of finishes, advanced methods of scientific analysis and presentation of a long-term project to analyze and conserve historic finishes at the US Treasury Building (Robert Mills). The course will also address historic plaster with a guest lecture and demonstration of plaster materials, application, and casting for ornamental plaster. We will make and apply paints and other finishes in class. A visit to the decorative arts studio and Philadelphia sites displaying decorative painting will complement lectures and assignments. Bartram's Garden, the eighteenth-century home of botanist John Bartram in West Philadelphia, will serve as a case study and subject for the final assignment.
Conservation of Archaeological Sites
Matero & Erickson
This seminar will address the history, theories, principles, and practices of the preservation and interpretation of archaeological sites and landscapes. The course will draw from a wide range of published material and experiences representing both national and international contexts. Topics will include site and landscape documentation and recording; site formation and degradation; intervention strategies including interpretation and display, legislation, policy, and contemporary issues of descendent community ownership and global heritage. Depending on the site, students will study specific issues leading toward the critique or development of a conservation and management program in accordance with guidelines established by ICOMOS/ ICAHM and other official agencies.