SAH News

Barbara Penner and Gabrielle Esperdy: Reyner Banham, Journalist and Scholar

by SAH News | Sep 15, 2015
Two SAH members have written articles on Reyner Banham, journalist, scholar, and SAH member published in Places Journal.  Both articles include archival text by Prof. Banham.  Links to articles appear below.

"Future Archive: The Man Who Wrote Too Well" by Barbara Penner

Over the course of his thirty-six-year career, Reyner Banham wrote 750 articles.

Seven hundred and fifty
. Possibly more; the number is not exact. 1 All the while, Banham was producing major scholarly books, from the reputation-making Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, of 1960, to A Concrete Atlantis, of 1986, as well as a host of minor ones, from the edited Aspen Papers, of 1974, to Contemporary Architecture of Japan, of 1985. In fact, when he was a doctoral student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he studied under Nikolaus Pevsner, writing was his main source of income; in those years Banham was an editor at Architectural Review and freelanced for numerous journals. But even when he took a full-time position at University College London — he was on the Bartlett School of Architecture faculty from 1964 until 1976, when he took up various academic posts in America — Banham maintained a degree of productivity that can only be described as epic.
 
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"Banham's America" by Gabrielle Esperdy

Reyner Banham may have died in 1988, but he is active on Facebook, with a fan group, an author page, and, at last count, 1,048 friends. This is far fewer than the average teenager, to say nothing of Lady Gaga, and there are certainly more sober ways to gauge the influence of the British historian and critic of modern architecture and design: two collections of his writings, a hefty intellectual biography, and a volume of essays by distinguished scholars inspired by his work. In addition, a number of his books remain in print decades after their original publication, including Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) and Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (1971). Most recently,  is as reverent an homage to Banham’s style of casual but informed analysis as one might imagine. Clearly, Banham still matters in all the ways that count for a traditional intellectual — but Banham still matters in ways that count for an intellectual in the age of social media, too. And the man whose work happily vacillated between the academic and the popular would have appreciated the giddy enthusiasm that’s prompted hundreds of people, from dozens of countries, to like and friend him posthumously.

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