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Derived from Yanni’s book on the architecture of college dormitories, this presentation focuses on the housing of women at co-ed universities. Based on extensive archival research and analysis of architectural drawings and buildings, Yanni traces the history of genteel surveillance that characterized dormitories for women. Examples from Oberlin, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and Howard University serve to illustrate the way the physical spaces of residence halls served two almost opposite purposes. One goal was to provide a therapeutic space, a retreat within the setting of a male-dominated campus. The other function was to set such a high standard of hospitality that the public spaces within the women’s dorms would civilize brutish visitors, namely, young men.

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  Carla Yanni                                       

Carla Yanni is a professor of architectural history in the Art History Department at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is the author of Living on Campus: An Architectural History of the American Dormitory (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).  Her second book, The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States, won a Graham Foundation publication grant and was named a 2007 “Book of Critical Interest” by the journal Critical Inquiry. Johns Hopkins University Press published her first book, Nature’s Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display. She holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania.