Postponed: Walter L. Gordon Lecture looks at architecture, memory and place

Note: This lecture has been postponed. Information on a new date will be published in an upcoming issue of YFile.

Shelley Hornstein, professor of architectural history and urban culture in the Department of Visual Arts at York, will deliver the Walter L. Gordon Lecture at the University Nov. 17.

In her talk, titled “Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place”, Hornstein will use several case studies to demonstrate different ways imaginary and real representations of buildings and places trigger, create and shape memory. Her presentation is an overview of her forthcoming book of the same title.

Hornstein’s lecture is the centrepiece of the Faculty of Fine Arts Research Celebration, taking place Tuesday, Nov. 17. Her talk will be held at noon at 1009 Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building, Keele campus.

She argues that architecture is best remembered by experiencing a place. The buildings of an experienced environment are vividly preserved in memory. Yet when the architecture is no longer present – for example, if we’ve left the place or the architecture has been demolished – or if a site is only ever experienced second-hand through photos and descriptions, people carry on remembering those locations.

Hornstein’s investigations are premised on a series of questions: How does architecture, as a built, material object, become iconic in non-architectural forms? What is the relationship between the built object and the visual and textual body of imagery that enables our imagination to, in effect, “transport” architecture elsewhere? In what ways do ideas or images we remember of certain buildings or places endure in our memory? What is the relationship of a physical place or building to an idea with a site or object as the material match to anchor or trigger the recollection?

Hornstein’s lecture is based on research she carried out as the 2007-2008 recipient of the Walter L. Gordon Fellowship. Established in 1981 and named in honour of the late Walter L. Gordon, former chancellor of York University, the Walter L. Gordon Research Fellowship is awarded annually to a distinguished scholar at York in recognition of outstanding research. The fellowship provides recipients with the opportunity to complete projects requiring a sustained period of intensive effort, free of other University responsibilities.

Admission to the lecture is free.