Stanford University

News Service



Davey Hubay, symposium coordinator: (650) 725-0143,
John Sanford, writer, News Service: (650) 736-2151, jsanford@stanford

Symposium to examine significance of 'everyday' in art, architecture

An upcoming symposium will bring together architects, architectural historians, art historians, sociologists and literary scholars to discuss how nothing out of the ordinary can be extraordinary.

"The Everyday: The Ordinary and the Extraordinary," which is scheduled for May 4-5 in Annenberg Auditorium, will focus on how the places we visit every day are built and how they affect us. The two-day symposium begins at 3:30 p.m. Friday and is free and open to the public.

In the spirit of the event, speakers have been pressed to tone down academic jargon.

"I've asked people to make their discussions very concrete and to present concrete examples rather than to be abstract," said event organizer and visiting Professor Dell Upton, an architectural historian at the University of California-Berkeley.

Whereas you might need a Ph.D. to fully understand, say, the deconstructionist theory behind an architectural plan by Peter Eisenmann, this symposium strives for just the opposite. Indeed, Upton emphasizes that the lectures are designed to be accessible to the architecturally uninitiated.

Nevertheless, the ordinary and everday is becoming a hot topic in university architecture and art history departments nationwide.

"It's really pretty clear that people today who are interested in architecture are interested in getting around the dominance of very abstract French theory," Upton said.

This trend owes a lot to pragmatist philosophers like John Dewey, as well as to French social and political theorists, especially the late sociologist Henri Lefebvre, whose 1974 book The Production of Space was translated into English in 1991, and to the Situationist International school of urbanism.

"The symposium is really an effort to get at the way that the most mundane things we experience help to shape our personalities, our sense of self and our interaction with the world," said Upton, whose lecture is titled "Street Life: Selfhood and Citizenship in Antebellum America."

"For example, we go into buildings and do a lot of interesting things in them, and this somehow shapes the tenor of our lives and how we relate to other people," he added.

Stanford art history Professor Michael Marrinan will discuss Parisian streetscapes in his lecture, "Gustave Caillebotte's Paris: The Uncanny of Everyday Life." Other lectures will focus on topics such as the suburbs as they are depicted in sitcoms, modern quilts, the photography of ordinary landscapes in the American West, hip-hop landscapes, the Situationists and the French architect Charlotte Perriand.

For more information about the symposium, contact Davey Hubay at (650) 725-0143 or



© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use  |  Copyright Complaints