Method Acts is a series of virtual workshops focused on exploring scholarly techniques for graduate students and emerging scholars in architectural history and adjacent fields. This series of two events will be a forum for discussing new, alternative, and reconsidered methodological approaches to our work.
Historical methods are practices and are inherently political. The question of who gets to write history is inextricable from the politics of how it is written. The scope, subject, and mode of address, the accessibility of historical evidence, and the orientation of the researcher all condition historians’ encounters with the events and objects that we study. As architectural historians in early phases of our careers, we have the opportunity to orient our field toward broader forms of engagement with material evidence.
In conjunction with efforts to expand the topics that we select for historical inquiry, we must also reassess the ways that we approach those topics. As increasingly varied forms of evidence other than traditional architectural media provide the basis for the history that we write, we should also account for the format of media as epistemic categories.
Moreover, in situations in which archives are unavailable, non-existent or inaccessible, how can we, as scholars, continue to engage with research by the means available to us without sacrificing depth and details? How can our field nonetheless retain the ambition to construct a global architectural history? As scholars realign research towards engaged, activist, and decolonized methods, we propose an opportunity to ask questions of graduates and emerging scholars, to continue the work of shaping a more inclusive disciplinary field.
This workshop series confronts questions of methodology head-on. Each workshop will ask how new methods may prompt reconsiderations of content, both within and outside the mainstream. Anthropology, historical anthropology, science and technology studies, media archaeology, environmental justice history, translation studies, critical race theory, public history, feminist, gender, and queer studies, among other fields, have shaped and influenced architectural history; creating an interdisciplinary venue to expand beyond the traditional and the familiar. An essential aspect of this series of workshops will be rethinking how we relate to the subjects of our research and one another when discussing it. Toward that end, rather than a typical seminar-style format (with a leader and assigned reading), we propose a horizontally-organized structure in which we discuss works in progress. Authors interested in engaging methodological claims will select a portion of their work and other comparative works that align with or diverge from their approach.
Taking the abstract, bibliography, archive, fieldwork, and footnote as places where methods are imprinted, discussions will begin with 10-minute presentations by invited emerging scholars providing a concise overview of their research, their methodological frame, and a specific area where the intervention occurs: the abstract, bibliography, archive, or footnote. Following the discussions, the committee will moderate questions for approximately 30 minutes (with a 5-minute introduction and conclusion to the event).
Method Acts is organized by SAH Graduate Students Advisory Committee members Leslie Lodwick, Katerina Bong, Charlette Caldwell, Aslihan Gunhan and Antonio Pacheco.