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HIAA department welcomes three new profs

The new faculty members offer diverse perspectives following the department’s external review

Following a string of summer building renovations, the University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture continues to welcome change with the appointment of three new professors. The new faculty, Assistant Professors of History of Art and Architecture Courtney Martin and Itohan Osayimwese and Professor Anthony Vidler bring with them a wide range of expertise, including that in areas not previously offered by the department.

The appointments followed an external review of the department, which prompted a reexamination of its future direction.

“We were thinking very carefully not just about replacing faculty, but also about where we were moving as a department,” said Sheila Bonde, chair of the department. “It’s a very exciting moment for us to rebuild and have three new energetic people.”

Martin arrived at Brown from Vanderbilt University, where she worked as both professor and researcher. She specializes in contemporary art, particularly British diaspora, though her expertise extends back through the 19th Century. Martin will offer a range of courses in the years to come, including the course HIAA 0870: “20th Century British Art: Edwardian to Contemporary” this semester.

Osayimwese, who was previously at Ithaca College, has a dual speciality in German colonial architecture and African architecture.

“(She) really brings Africa to our department,” Bonde said, “and that’s very exciting as it’s something we’ve only rarely had covered by visiting professors.” This semester, Osayimwese will teach a lecture course entitled HIAA 0770: “Architecture and Urbanism of the African Diaspora.”

Having spent his entire career broadening the study of architecture to one with an interdisciplinary view, Vidler is now working with both the humanities and history of art and architecture departments. His areas of expertise include the theory and practice of architecture and 18th century Walter Benjamin. He is presently researching the architecture and related arts in the immediate post-World War II period, and he will teach a related seminar this semester — HIAA 1180 S02: “The Brutalist Epoch: Architecture, Art, and Culture 1945-1975.” As both a trained architect and architecture historian, Vidler said he hopes to “bring an inside view to these studies.”

Students concentrating in the department expressed mixed emotions about the new appointments. “I loved Professor Kriz,” said concentrator Grace High ’14, referring to Professor Emerita Kay Dian Kriz, who retired last year. “So I am always sad to see someone I loved go, but it is always exciting to check and see if a new professor has unusual interests that also interest me.”

Many history of art and architecture concentrators expressed a tendency to shop classes with new professors, rather than sign up immediately, and some admitted to having poor experiences with visiting professors. “The professor is just as important as the material for me,” High said.

Bonde said there was a lot of excitement about the new areas of art history offered and the new faculty appointments.

“We tried to involve our graduate and undergraduate students in the search process and asked them for feedback,” she said. “So this was really a community looking for new members to join us.”


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