Tag Archives: Urban Studies

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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4/12/16 “The Legacy of Jane Jacobs” with distinguished visitors Greg Lindsay and William Easterly

Jane Jacobs event

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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 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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Grad Students Take Research on the Road [UPDATE]

PhD student Chris Rose presents his research on the aristocracy of the crusader Near East at the 2014 Crusades Studies Symposium at St. Louis University

PhD student Chris Rose presents his research on the aristocracy of the crusader Near East at the 2014 Crusades Studies Symposium, Saint Louis University

One of the most exciting (and fundamental) aspects of life as a professional historian is the opportunity to showcase research and arguments at academic conferences, symposia and other public fora. It is in these environments that the rubber of archival research, innovative interpretation, and  theoretical development hits the road, and the whole community has a chance to share ideas and knowledge and to ask questions about sources, methods, and the direction of our individual and collective enterprises.

Students in the Fordham History graduate program take full advantage of the opportunity to present their work. Click the link to get a taste of our students’ exciting research, and the distinguished gatherings at which they will be presenting. Continue reading

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Historians Win Prestigious Teaching Awards

Rosemary Wakeman and Héctor Lindo-Fuentes

Rosemary Wakeman and Héctor Lindo-Fuentes

The History Department are proud of faculty members Rosemary Wakeman and Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, who both won teaching awards at Fordham University’s 2014 Arts & Sciences Faculty Day.

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