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Bryan Norwood is completing his PhD at Harvard University in the History and Theory of Architecture. He will be joining the University of Michigan Society of Fellows as a 2018-2021 Postdoctoral Scholar and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning as an Assistant Professor of Architecture this September. His research focuses on the intersections of race, religion, and politics in the formation of professional architectural practice in the United States.  He was the 2016-2017 Charles E. Peterson Senior Fellow at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and recently guest edited Log 42 (winter/spring 2018) entitled “Disorienting Phenomenology.”

Taking a central observation of the sociology of professions—that professions construct specialized systems of advanced education through the theorization of practice—as a basis for analysis, my dissertation looks at the way the professionalization of architecture occurred along the Atlantic Coast in the Early American Republic. Entitled “The Architect’s Knowledge: Imagining the Profession’s Historical Body, 1797-1877,” this study reveals how educational and professional institutions that took shape in cities like Philadelphia and New York intertwined architecture with issues of theology, class, and race. In particular, it explores the ways the intellectual project of these institutions established the knowledge of architecture’s own history as a fundamental requirement of the professional architect. This study expands on existing scholarship by drawing attention to the ways Protestant theology and Scottish Enlightenment philosophy shaped the nationalistic vision of architectural practitioners and institutions. It lays the foundation for a book manuscript entitled Architecture’s White Bodies: Race, Taste, and Theology in the formation of an American Profession.

My dissertation has opened up a second, extensive research project into the development of architectural practice in the nineteenth century in the Deep South. In contrast to the architectural profession that developed along the Atlantic Seaboard that I studied in my dissertation, the craftsmen that constructed the monuments of the slave states were in many cases skilled bodies treated as property. They were practitioners that could not form institutions or publication industries to elevate their work to the status of a profession. The effects of this deferral of discourse cascaded into the early twentieth-century when institutional bodies for architectural education and professionalization finally began to take shape. This second research project, drawing broadly on the histories of capitalism and the Black Atlantic as well as environmental and architectural history, will interrogate the delayed formation of professional architectural identity in the post-Reconstruction South. It also draws in particular on the theoretical tools of phenomenology—and in particular the work of Frantz Fanon, Sara Ahmed, and Édouard Glissant— to investigate the relationship of the laboring bodies of free and enslaved craftsman and the professional architect. This second research project will eventually lead to a manuscript tentatively entitled Architecture’s Black Bodies: Race, Labor, and Imagined Pasts in the formation of an American Profession.

I previously received a BA in philosophy and a BArch from Mississippi State University, an MA in philosophy from Boston University, and an AM in architecture from Harvard. I have taught lecture and seminar courses in architectural history and theory at Harvard, Mississippi State University, Northeastern University, and Boston University. Other recent research includes the architectural implications of speculative realism and object-oriented ontology, the history of flood control on the Mississippi River, and mid-century modern architecture in Boston. My writing has appeared in Philosophical Forum, LogHarvard Design Magazine, and Culture Machine, as well as several collected volumes.

Contact Me: bnorwood [at] fas [dot] harvard [dot] edu