Tag Archives: Urban History

The Professor and the Process: Rosemary Wakeman and Practicing Utopia

This last year, the department’s own Professor Rosemary Wakeman published her examination of the twentieth-century new town movement with the University of Chicago Press. Practicing Utopia: An Intellectual History of the New Town Movement tracks the global phenomenon as it ignored traditional political and geographic boundaries as each location strived for its own vision of an idealized city.

Discussing another historian’s work, from its inception to completion and the problems they encounter along the way, personally helps me realize my own research may be more fantastic reality rather than realistic fantasy (you mean I’m not the only one who feels like they spend more time than necessary getting archival permission?). Thankfully, Dr. Wakeman was able to take some time away from her schedule to discuss with me the process and problems for Practicing Utopia.

History Department: So how did the research for this book begin?

Rosemary Wakeman: Like many projects, I begin research while writing on Paris and its postwar development. The housing crisis and new towns in the Paris region led to the overwhelming sources on new towns in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia. It was impossible not to follow the trail.

HD: So what began in Paris developed into a worldwide study? How long did it take then to write the book?

RM: The book was written during a year-long fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in Wassenaar, the Netherlands. Another 8+ months followed hunting for images and permissions, working with the editors at the University of Chicago Press to put together the final version.

HD: As a book that developed from Paris into a worldwide study, where does this fit into your overall research?

RM: My longstanding interest is in European urban history, especially the second half of the 20th century. The new towns book gave me the chance to explore urban history, architecture and urban planning in central and eastern Europe.

HD: Did exploring these topics then lead you into any new avenues of research?

RM: This has led to a new project on An Urban History of Europe, 1815 to the Present, which will be published by Bloomsbury Press. Another upcoming project speaks to my interest in continuing a global perspective and will examine the connections between Bombay, London, and Shanghai in the mid-20th century.

HD: It sounds like the trail hasn’t ended then. Have there been any bumps in that trail, such as problems that kept you awake at night dreading some aspect of the project?

RM: What kept me up at night was the choice of which new towns and architect-planners to include in the book and how to organize them around an intellectual history. Finding images and permissions was also difficult. Nonetheless, the project was an opportunity to be in contact with archivists and researchers in new towns literally all over the world. This was an immense pleasure and one of the great benefits of doing historical research.

Thanks so much to Professor Wakeman for taking the time to answer our questions.

When she is not away writing wonderful books, Professor Wakeman teaches frequently in the History graduate program and has served as Director of the O’Connell Initiative in the History of Global Capitalism.

 

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Bronx African American Oral History Collection Now Online!

OralHistories

This week, the Bronx African American History Project of Fordham celebrates a major milestone with the uploading of more than 200 of its oral history interviews to the BAAHP’s Digital Research Site at Fordham libraries, making them available to scholars around the nation and around the world. More than twelve years in the making, this collection represents an unparalleled resources for scholars in African American and Urban History. Keep reading for further details of the project provided by Professor Mark Naison.

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Filed under Digital Resources, Faculty News, Grad Student News, Publications

With A Dynamic Teacher, a Great Course and Access to Lincoln Center, A PhD Student Follows the Movement of Dance’s Past

Metropolitan_Opera_House_At_Lincoln_Center_2

Following a unique opportunity he had to take a special course at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus last Spring, PhD student Jason McDonald wrote to use to tell us his fascinating work on the history of set building and choreography. The project was such a success that an essay resulting from it was catalogued at the Metropolitan Opera Archive.  Read on to hear Jason’s story about the course, his experiences at the Met, and the project that arose from them.

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History Major Follows Two Historic Avenues Into the Past

Ricky Bordelon (FCRH '15) at the Landesarchiv in Berlin

Ricky Bordelon (FCRH ’15) at the Landesarchiv in Berlin

This summer, thanks to a research grant from the Fordham College Dean’s Office, Ricky  Bordelon (FCRH ’15), a double-major in History and Political Science was able to travel to Berlin to do research for his History senior thesis. Ricky wrote to us with some details of his fascinating project and the archives and sites that he visited in Berlin.

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History Major Explores the Development of Coney Island in Summer Research Project

Coney Island 2Since the 1880s, millions of visitors have flocked to the amusements entertainment venues of Coney Island. It is a New Yorker’s dream: a place where the greatest urban metropolis  meets the beauty of the seashore. Although it has been the topic of many books and documentaries, few have studied the planning proposals that shaped the Coney Island we know today. Fordham History major Priscilla Consolo (LC ’16), who grew up ten minutes from Coney Island, wanted to learn how this neighborhood and holiday spot came to be. She wrote to us with a description of the fascinating research project she conducted last summer.

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Filed under Student Awards, Undergrad News