Readings and Resources

Pre-read materials for November 9, 2016 lecture

Isometric Seductive Dignity Excerpt

Using Barthes’ observations about the “seductive” force of art as a starting point, Andy Chen argues in his MFA thesis that design can create vicarious, proxy experiences to reveal what it feels like to be marginalized. By personalizing the narrative surrounding marginality, design can give a full sense of people’s lives as opposed to reducing them to props. This moves beyond universalizing, impersonal claims about inclusion towards design that focuses on personal history and dignity.

Black Vernacular: Architecture as Cultural Practice

In this short essay, Bell Hooks demonstrates how poor, working-class Black people see freedom as “intimately linked to the issue of transforming space.” Material deprivation has caused poor people to define space on their own terms as a digest of oppression, rather than a refusal to acknowledge it. In contrast to utopian, modernist housing that standardizes and imposes dominant taste, Hooks calls for spatial imagination that locates itself in the history and hopes of people of color.

Art in the Lives of Immigrant Communities in the United States (click on book image to read excerpts online)

This is an anthology curated by Princeton faculty Paul DiMaggio and Patricia Fernandez-Kelly documenting the intersection between cultural production and immigrant identity formation. The introduction explores the diverse functions of art: as a source of comfort, as an expression of cultural dislocation, as an attempt to integrate with the “new world,” as a mode of political action.

The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief (click on book image to read excerpts online)

This is a series of case studies by Princeton English professor Anne Cheng that deploys psychoanalytic theory to read Asian American representation in literature and film. The basic argument is that we are a nation at ease with grievance but not with grief; we are comfortable with discourse and representation of universal human rights but uncomfortable with acknowledging personal suffering and trauma.

Additional Readings

The Black Arrival at Princeton

Series of articles on black student experience

An Engineer's Approach to University-Community Bridges

Other Resources

Video: Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni written and directed by Melvin McCray ’74

Video: Looking Forward: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni produced, directed, and edited by Melvin McCray ’74