SAH Latrobe Chapter Student Annual Meeting Fellowship Report

posted Aug 26, 2015, 5:11 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Aug 26, 2015, 5:13 PM ]
Klint Ericson
Latrobe Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians
2015 Annual Meeting Fellowship
Chicago, IL

As collaborative research projects make readily evident, success is largely a byproduct of the support, insights, and contributions of colleagues. It is in this sense of gratitude that I thank the Society of Architectural Historians Latrobe Chapter for sponsoring my research through a Graduate Student Annual Meeting Fellowship that allowed me to attend the 2015 Annual Conference in Chicago. The conference was a tremendous experience for me, providing occasion to present my developing research, connect with other architectural historians, and benefit from many professional opportunities and endeavors. 

My primary purpose in attending the 2015 conference was presenting my research paper, entitled “Forming Mission Life: Seventeenth-Century New Mexico Conventos,” as part of an open session chaired by Dr. Mohammed Gharipour of Morgan State University. Drawing on my ongoing dissertation research, this paper is a study of the form and planning of Franciscan mission residences (conventos) among Zuni Indian pueblos of New Mexico. I compare the Hawikku and Zuni Pueblo missions to the larger history of Franciscan monastic architecture, considering the formal and connotative elements of their shared convento plans. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large audience at our 8:15 AM session, with successful presentations robust in diversity and enthusiastic discussion afterwards. The conference was my first opportunity to receive critical feedback from a knowledgeable audience of architectural historians; not only did I receive a positive response, but I also gained a new dissertation committee member with whom I am anticipating a productive dialogue in the future.

As part of the conference I attended a variety of paper sessions, including themes of Classical, Medieval and African architecture as well as the materiality of Modernism. I was particularly interested in the graduate student roundtable, which focused on interdisciplinarity in architectural history. As an art and architectural historian whose work is tightly intertwined with anthropology and archaeology, I wanted to see how other students and young professionals were approaching interdisciplinary practices. The session was a valuable opportunity to dialogue with colleagues, reconsider aspects of my own research project, and think about the incorporation of interdisciplinary approaches for the classroom.

Another productive session was the Buildings of the United States/SAH Archipedia roundtable, which introduced me to the SAH Archipedia Classics Building project. From discussions with the editors, it became clear that my knowledge of the architectural history and cultural context of New Mexico’s western Pueblos fit a need of the project. I have since joined the effort and will be providing several entries for the New Mexico section. Furthermore, the conference provided opportunities to meet with editors to discuss my work and potential for publication as I complete my dissertation. While at the book show, I picked up several newly published resources which are directly contributing to my current writing.

I schedule my trip to Chicago with extra time before and after the conference, allowing visits to local collections that will contribute to my dissertation. I spent a day and a half at the Newberry Library, obtaining copies of primary documents, and looking at liturgical texts from Spain and Mexico, which will be helpful in thinking about the role of liturgy in shaping mission architecture. I also visited the Chicago Art Institute for comparative materials in their Native American and Latin American collections.

Altogether, the Conference was an invaluable opportunity to gain feedback and develop my dissertation research, professional relationships, and openings for further work. I am particularly interested in exploring how my focus on Native American architecture, archaeological source materials, and descendent community collaboration might enrich SAH discourse in the future, and am planning on proposing paper sessions related to these topics. I am deeply appreciative of the SAH Latrobe Chapter and its support of my work through the Annual Meeting Fellowship, and look forward to sharing my research with the Chapter.