Graduate Student Book Group

SAH 2021 Virtual Conference

Building Character cover, Charles L. Davis II

Cover of Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style and author Charles L. Davis II


Graduate Student Book Group
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
12:00–1:30 PM CDT

Moderators: Jonah Rowen, Columbia University, and Charlette Caldwell, Columbia University

This program will convene graduate students around a discussion of Charles L. Davis’s Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style. In a seminar format, graduate student attendees will have prepared by reading the book, and will be encouraged to bring thoughts and questions for the author and for one another. Members of the SAH Graduate Student Advisory Committee will moderate the conversation. They will also prepare questions in advance, which they will share with Prof. Davis in the weeks leading up to the scheduled event.

Possible topics for discussion include methodology, audience, decisions about organization of the book, the processes of research, and the author’s approach to race and identity. The conversation will also focus on disciplinary issues particular to architectural history, namely regarding evidence, archives, selection of objects of study, visual materials and media, the capacities and limitations of specific methods (such as biography or oral history), and integration of other disciplinary practices or modes of research. The session may also touch on other, more wide-ranging subjects, such as the relationship between Davis’s own scholarship and pedagogy, and other aspects of academic, historical, and critical practice as an architectural historian.

As a program specially targeted toward graduate students, this will be an opportunity to engage with the author of a recently-published book, and thus to learn about the process of developing a book-length study in architectural history. As significantly, it will be a forum for graduate students to connect with one another, to collectively think through ideas of scholarly approaches and relevancy, as well as broader themes regarding the directions and potentials of architectural history today.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610