About crankyprofessor

I'm an associate professor of the history of art and architecture at a small liberal arts college in Upstate New York.

Corbusier and Mussolini – Big-M Modernism and Fascism (the Real Thing)

This isn’t just Fascism-the-adjective-that-means-something-BAD. This is an example of architectural authoritarianism.

Corbusier was pestering Mussolini with designs for Addis Ababa three months after the conquest. That’s eager collaboration!

The link goes to a fascinating case study at Failed Architecture that discusses how eager European architects were to treat Addis Ababa as a blank slate – even though it had been the capital city of an empire since 1889 and was a real city.

Perhaps one should file this under War Crime Trials: Architects?

Travel day

After European Studies 101: Geneva to Chattanooga for midterm break and Elderly Parent Patrol! I’ll also get to go to a family reunion for a branch of the tree I haven’t seen this way since I left Atlanta. The Crawfords used to have a pool party at the 4th of July, but about the time I moved up here they started having the annual reunion in the fall – and seldom on the same weekend as my midterm break. So, Mama and I are off to North Alabama tomorrow.

What’s Hardball in the museum world?

Well, maybe the Turkish government has decided that refusing to loan art works to American and European museums will count.

The Met is staging a show in 2016 on the Seljuk empire (before the Ottomans, but it’s more complicated than the word predecessors sums up).

Without loans from Turkey, and with Iranian loans unlikely unless there is a sudden improvement in relations between the US and Iran, the Met will have to rely on major loans from British and European institutions instead.

 

The Met’s exhibition could include, scholars suggest, dragon door-knockers from Berlin, some of the earliest Islamic carpets in existence from Copenhagen, works from the great pottery reserves of the British Museum, and stone and figural carving from the Met’s own strong collections. Some of the finest Seljuk Qu’rans are also in Western collections.

 

But Turkish loans could have ranged from manuscripts from the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul and trophy items, such as an extraordinary steel mirror with gold inlay also housed there, to reliefs from the walls of Konya, the Seljuks’ historic capital in Anatolia.

 

The article linked above also discusses the refusal of the Turkish government to make any loans to a major show at the British Museum a few years ago, so this is an ongoing strategy to get the museum world to engage in negotiations over looted or stolen artworks in their collections.

 

So when will I go to Rome next?

Folks from our language school partner in Rome and the interesting food studies institute which teaches a Food and Culture course some semesters (though not every program uses the GustoLab course) were in town this week. They wanted to know when I was coming back to Rome. I said 2017 (very sweetly they said things like “no, no – WITHOUT students! Surely sooner than that?”). What’s been going around the department this week makes me wonder if it won’t be Spring of 2018 before I lead another program.

Well, in that case I will CERTAINLY be there on my own, senza gli studenti, before then!

Mac iOS 8

Here an note by John Gruber about Mac iOS 8 uptake being much slower than iOS 7.

In my case, I didn’t get around to updating until last week because I don’t trust over-the-air updates because of the bug problems and I no longer plug my phone into my laptop as frequently as I used to. I’m not sure why the latter is so, but it is.

I take lots of iPhone photos, but they’re usually ephemeral enough that I upload them to Flickr or Facebook directly and only move them into my Pictures file if they strike me as worth saving. I download a book from Audible once a month (here’s my most recent download: American Sphinx) and hook up to transfer that to the iPhone.

Are you old enough to start regretting things you won’t live long enough to read?

There are so many OLD things I won’t be able to read that I get frustrated, some times. Lately, I’m regretting future material blocked by current political prejudices that I would like to live past. For instance, I’m looking forward to some political history and biography, long about 2075, about the first decades of the 21st century.

Do you remember those incessant polls (frequently hosted by the History News Network, for instance) about how George W. Bush ranks with Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan among American presidents? I’m looking forward to some re-evaluations there. Of course, even James Earl Carter might profit from a little more distance.

Do you remember how Obama was so smart, so well-read, so going to reverse the rising sea levels (wasn’t that one of his OWN lines?)? I’m waiting for the transcripts to be released. We do Bush, Gore, and Kerry’s GPAs and SAT scores. I wonder if the Nobel Peace Prize rescindable?

We all know how transparent the current White House promised to be. Seen any examples lately? An administrative history of the IRS in the ‘teens will be an interesting start. What about a review of the Secret Service?

Remember due process? If you teach on a college campus, speaking about that memory might make you a dangerous subversive who needs to engage in some radical self-reappraisal before the Office of Civil Rights determines you can interact with students again. The most outrageous example of over reach by administrators I’ve heard about so far is in our admissions overlay. Google “Colgate” and “false imprisonment”. Really. Essay question: In what basement on your campus would the deans and the Title IX officers hold a student involuntarily and without outside contact?

Historia longa, vita brevis.

As the kids say: Wow. Just wow.

One of my really smart female colleagues just posted something on Facebook that more or less assumes that we have a lot of rich, privileged, white, male students who are used to getting things their own way and have certain kinds of sex with female partners which our rules consider rape.

I really want to walk a couple of doors down, knock, and ask if she has taught many of our rich, privileged, white, female students who are used to getting things their own way? Because it would surprise me if some of those women are not making non-credible accusations. Yeah, yeah, multiple negatives. I’m trying not to get sued.

We all need to back off and let the legal institutions do their work. Really. I’m happy to see male rapists expelled. I’m also happy to see female baseless-accusants expelled. But if you assume that the Late Capitalist Justice System is all a big charade, I guess you can assume that Cossacks are riding across campus raping women and children and getting away with it because, The Man.

Let’s not pretend there aren’t both. More of the former? Quite probably. A not-negligible number of the latter? Why not? I think we should do some social science about them both.

Another First

The verb tenses going through my mind are odd.

This is my father’s birthday.

This would have been my father’s birthday.

This is the first year without my father on his birthday?

I’m not sure – but I called my mother. I generally call her every day anyway, but still. She was getting the car washed (which in a way is an appropriate thing to do on his birthday).

Daddy, July 2005.

Daddy, July 2005.

Certainly out-dated (that’s 2005), but such a characteristic pose – Daddy on the front porch with the newspaper.

Where’s OUR Recovery?

College enrollment declined by close to half a million (463,000) between 2012 and 2013, marking the second year in a row that a drop of this magnitude has occurred. The cumulative two-year drop of 930,000 was larger than any college enrollment drop before the recent recession, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics from the Current Population Survey released today. The Census Bureau began collecting data on college enrollment in this survey in 1966.

Not pretty. And the figures are from the Feds – the link is to a census.gov website. Places like these Colleges survive by hiring more admissions office and working a LOT harder. We opened a permanent encampment on the West Coast (in Portland, but serves everything beyond Denver) to go with our folks stationed in the Boston Metro Area, the NYC area, and the DC area. Still, campus visits are down 20%?

I wonder if 4 year colleges are beginning to cannibalize 2 year admissions – or if folks at the 2 year level are just not starting?

via Instapundit

Busy day!

I just checked my school email for the first time since 8:00 a.m.! I don’t think I’ve gone that long on a school day in years!

8:45-10:10, Houghton House Seminar Room – Fsem – I divided the class in half and they debated the British Museum vs. the New Parthenon Museum, Athens, positions on the Parthenon Marbles – with 2 colleagues serving as judges. The BM prevailed on points.

10:10-11:30, Library Learning Suite 2  (yes, they started without me) – Subcommittee on Admissions and Retention. Interesting stuff. We seem to be doing better than many of our comparison group. One of my favorite recent advisees is emplaced admissions staff on the West Coast (he’s in Portland and covers the region).

11:55-1:20, Houghton House 112 – Roman Art and Power – numismatic presentations.

Whew.

Luckily, the email didn’t have any surprises, but I’m off in a bit for a Tenure Committee meeting on Campus, then back to Houghton House for Architectural Studies info session for First Years (yes, I’m on the steering committee and really should start going to those).