Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Q and A with Nancy Klein (Department of Architecture)

We asked Nancy Klein (Department of Architecture), who is presenting on Wednesday, 3 October on "The Construction of Identity and 'Architectural History' on the Acropolis of Athens," a few questions about her work:

Please provide a few-sentence description of your presentation’s argument.

The Classical Acropolis has played a singular role in defining our understanding of Greek architecture. Following the Persian destruction in 480 BCE, the preeminent Athenian sanctuary was rebuilt under the leadership of Perikles. The building of a new sanctuary for the city’s patron goddess demonstrates both the deliberate and symbolic reuse of architecture to create a visual memory of earlier monuments that were damaged by the Persian invasion of 480/479 B.C. and the creation of new architectural forms with an identifiably Athenian style.

How did you hit on the focus of your current research and what interests you about it?

About seven years ago, I was invited to study and publish the fragmentary remains of limestone buildings that stood on the Acropolis before the construction of the classical buildings most people are familiar with today. Beyond exploring the nature of the architecture and providing a reconstruction of the sanctuary in its earliest phases, this research provides a unique opportunity to explore issues such as the role of architecture in defining a sacred landscape, how these buildings relate to religious activities, and how the built environment both reflects and directs civic identity.

What is the most interesting place your research has taken you?

I can’t select a single place, but one of the big attractions of a career in architectural history and archaeology was the chance to travel to interesting locations. So far I have had the opportunity to study and work in England, France, and Greece, and to travel to many more countries as well.

What is the favorite course that you teach, and why?

ENDS 149, an introductory course to the history of western architecture from prehistory to the 13th century. It is a subject I find endlessly
fascinating and the class draws students from the whole campus, which creates a dynamic atmosphere for teaching.

If you had the opportunity to invite any living humanities scholar to come speak at the Glasscock Center, who would it be and why?

One of the first names that come to mind is Ursula K. LeGuin. I’ve read
her essays and works of fiction and heard her speak, and she always
offers a new and challenging perspective.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what material would you want with you?

All the books I’ve accumulated and haven’t had a chance to read.