Cultural Landscapes Blog

The UVA Center for Cultural Landscapes, in partnership with the School of Architecture, the College of Arts and Sciences, the University Libraries, and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), announces the launch of the University of Virginia Landscape Studies Initiative with a planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Jefferson Trust and the UVA Provost. The Landscape Studies Initiative will catalyze the research of scholars, teachers, students, writers, and practitioners in the areas of anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art history, cultural history, engineering, environmental planning, geography, landscape architecture, and several disciplines in the social and natural sciences.

Landscape Architecture faculty members Elizabeth Meyer and Michael Lee will lead the collaborative design and development of a new interface for texts, maps, narratives and experience of significant cultural landscapes that builds on the thematic structure of Elizabeth Barlow Roger’s 2001 publication Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History. This initiative’s pilot project will simultaneously study Central Park, New York and Park Muskau, Germany as test beds for an interdisciplinary pedagogical model that both utilizes and creates advanced digital humanities resources related to landscape studies within the classroom. The Initiative will eventually grow to include digital humanities projects and research initiatives, curricular programs, field studies, professional development programs, annual book prizes, and occasional book reprints in conjunction with partner organizations. It will establish the University of Virginia as a pre-eminent university for landscape studies through access to rare archival materials in a library setting, as well as the development of advanced digital resources that enable enhanced interpretation of word, image, and design.

The University of Virginia School of Architecture seeks a Project Manager for the first phase of the UVA Landscape Studies Initiative. This position is funded by the Mellon Foundation and is a three-year appointment to begin in August 2017.

The Project Manager will lead the first phase of the UVA Landscape Studies Initiative under the direction of the Faculty Directors. The position works closely with faculty and staff across the School of Architecture, UVA Libraries, and the College of Arts & Sciences to set a research and implementation agenda for an innovative digital resource in landscape design history. Under the direction of the Project Manager, the interdisciplinary Landscape Studies Initiative research group will create a database of landscape places, terms, and types that are geo-spatially referenced on a global scale. The digital resource will make use of a suite of visualization tools to support new creative interpretations and critical cartographies of historic landscapes. The digital resource will function as both a research platform and pedagogic tool. Digital humanities and technical experts on the team will create metadata terms, catalogue images and texts, and design a database interface and search engine.

To apply, visit and search on Posting Number 0620834. Complete a Candidate Profile on-line; attach a CV, cover letter, and provide contact information for three references.


The Center for Cultural Landscapes is pleased to announce the appointment of Jessica Ellen Sewell as Co-Director! Associate Professor Sewell has a deep background in cultural landscape studies, going back to her graduate work at UC Berkeley, where she received her PhD in Architecture in 2000. Sewell’s work has focused particularly on questions of gender and difference, which are central to her 2011 book, Women and the Everyday City (University of Minnesota Press). In this book she explores San Francisco's public spaces at the turn of the century through an analysis of the relationships between imagined, experienced, and built gendered landscapes. 
Sewell joined UVA as an Associate Professor in Urban and Environmental Planning in January of 2016. In addition to exploring the cultural landscapes of American cities, she has also brought her cultural landscapes approach to Chinese cities during the 3½ years she was Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and Chair of the Built Environment Cluster at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou. In collaborations with colleagues there, she created an app, Exploring Suzhou, that students and scholars can use to explore the urban cultural landscapes of Suzhou, a city of 14 million that encompasses both historic gardens and traditional neighborhoods and modern new town development. 

The 2017-2018 Center for Cultural Landscapes Research Roundtable Series will examine the theme of restoration as a theoretical concept and a professional practice spanning disciplines, geographies, and centuries. Through the lens of restoration, phenomena as seemingly unrelated as the election of Donald Trump, the revival of seagrass in the Chesapeake Bay, the reconstruction of slave quarters at Monticello, and the use of 3D printing to resurrect a damaged Rembrandt painting coalesce into a revealing matrix of American identity.

Led by faculty coordinator Lisa Goff (American Studies & English; Director, Institute for Public History), the roundtables will analyze restorations of places, politics, and cultural products, and the acrimonious debates that accompany such decisions. The idea that conflicts over American identity get enacted on the landscape is nothing new. But by focusing on restoration, as opposed to preservation or conservation or political conservatism, these roundtables will attempt to bring together the most recent and most persuasive scholarship about restoration—and to put them in orbit with each other in ways that blur the professional distinctions between  preservation and design, conservation and change.

The Library of American Landscape History (LALH) announces the long-awaited publication of Warren H. Manning, Landscape Architect and Environmental PlannerThe volume is edited by Robin Karson, Jane Roy Brown, and Sarah Allaback, with photographs by Carol Betsch. 

Warren H. Manning’s (1860–1938) national practice comprised more than sixteen hundred landscape design and planning projects throughout North America—from small home grounds to estates, cemeteries, college campuses, parks and park systems, and new industrial towns. Contributors to the Warren H. Manning Research Project have worked for more than a decade to assess current conditions of his built projects and to compile a richly illustrated compendium of essays that illustrate the range, scope, and significance of Manning’s notable career. 

The School of Architecture presents Fifty Years of Architectural Drawings, featuring the work of SARC alumnus Carlton Sturges Abbott. 

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 1963, Carlton Abbott embarked on his professional journey as an architect and artist. This exhibition is a collection of drawings created during his career which has spanned over fifty years. The drawings depict a range of subjects from housing to large urban projects. Pencil, ink, and pastel on paper or illustration board, are the primary materials used. Significant in the exhibit is a series of ink drawings of the buildings along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Carlton is the son of Stanley Abbott, FASLA, recognized as the primary designer of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The exhibit will be on display in the Elmaleh Gallery through April 29, 2017. 

In our February research roundtable Jennifer Reut, graduate of the UVA Art & Architectural History PhD and Senior Editor at Landscape Architecture Magazine, spoke on her research project Mapping the Green Book

Mapping the Green Book began as a research project with a deceptively straightforward objective: To map the sites that were listed in the Green Book, a national guide for black travelers published annually between 1936 and 1964. Nearly every year during that time, the Green Book published a listing of hotels, restaurants, gas stations, hair salons, nightclubs, and drugstores in every state that were known to welcome black patrons. It is a map, in text form, of the changing landscape of racialized space across nearly three decades. 

The UVA Department of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities Colloquium announce a lunchtime discussion with Professor Shannon Lee Dawdy on Thursday, March 16 from 11:50am-1:30pm at OpenGrounds. Professor Dawdy will speak on a recent article titled "The Wounded Landscape: Disaster, Trauma, and Ontology." 

Disaster victims often exhibit avoidance behavior to suppress or detour around reminders of the event. Others sift slowly through the ruins, as a way to come to terms with what happened. Some rush to erase and rebuild. Some hold on to every remnant and curate the scars. While disasters often have the effect of temporarily uniting a community, the process of ‘recovery’ just as often divides it. I explore the reasons why this might be, and focus on the relationship between trauma and materiality via understandings of post-traumatic stress, scarification, and ontology. I use evidence from two New Orleans disasters – a catastrophic fire in 1788 that nearly wiped out the city and left a significant archaeological imprint, and ethnographic interviews I conducted after Hurricane Katrina and its recent 10-year anniversary. This blend of psychology, ethnography, and archaeology exposes a profound co-constitution of inner states and outer worlds.

An Associate Professor of Anthopology and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, Dawdy melds archaeological, archival, and ethnographic methods with a regional focus on the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico. She's the author of two books, and her current research focuses on rapidly changing death practices in the U.S. Professor Dawdy is a recent MacArthur Fellow and has received funding for her fieldwork from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

To attend the lunch discussion, RSVP to Austin Hetrick at

Dumbarton Oaks announces the 2017 Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium "Landscapes of Pre-Industrial Cities," which will take place May 5-6, 2017 in Washington. D.C. 

The use of the word “landscape” to describe the formation and infrastructure of cities largely seems to express contemporary preoccupations with the post-industrial urban condition. Yet, features associated with contemporary urban landscapes—most notably the forms of human adaptation to and reshaping of the sites where cities develop and expand—can also be found in pre-industrial contexts in different time periods and across the globe.

Organized by Georges Farhat (University of Toronto) and John Beardsley (Dumbarton Oaks), the Garden and Landscape Studies symposium “Landscapes of Pre-Industrial Cities” explores the complex and dynamic relationship between environmental factors and the development of urban form. How was the modern dichotomy between the urban and the rural historically expressed with respect to land use, environmental control, and resource management? To what extent were territorial expansion, hydraulic management, and land reclamation determinant factors in the design, evolution, and historical fortunes of pre-industrial cities? What sense can we make of the contemporary concepts of urban sprawl, biodiversity, climate change, connectivity, and integrated management of natural resources if applied to pre-industrial urban landscapes?

For more information and to register, click here

This year's Benjamin C. Howland Memorial Lecture will take place on Monday February 20 at 5pm in Campbell Hall 153. It will feature Garnette Cadogan on "The New Sound in Our Streets."

How do the spaces we move in shape the people we are? And how might we think of our public spaces as environments which shape the kind of people we want to become? We know more and more about the world around us, thanks to a deluge of data, but somehow seem to be increasingly unaware of the people right before us. It prompts many of us to lament along with the poets. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” asked T.S. Eliot. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” 

This talk will be a meditation, aided by the voices of poets, essayists, novelists, and other close noticers of our world, that will invite us to be better listeners in public space. “Let the new sound in our streets be the patient sound of your discourse,” suggested Richard Wilbur. And why not? We live in embattled times with an urgent demand that we understand those around us. What might it mean, then, to think of our public spaces as teachers? Places that teach us how to be attentive to the hidden, neglected, repressed? Places, indeed, in which we discover our capacity to listen and create welcome new sounds.