The Residential is Racial: A Perceptual History of Mass Homeownership

Headshot of Adrienne Brown
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
Pillsbury Hall, Room 412

310 Pillsbury Dr. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Dr. Adrienne Brown, Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago, will give this year’s Donald R. Torbert Lecture in Architectural History. A scholar with wide expertise across a number of methodological, historical, and creative fields, Dr. Brown focuses especially on the American built environment of the twentieth century, and its impact on aesthetic perception, social relations, economic forms of citizenship, and racial identity in the U.S.

Housing experts and activists have long described the foundational role race has played in the creation of mass homeownership. This talk seeks to track the inverse: the role of mass homeownership in changing the definition, perception, and value of race. Resituating residential discrimination as a key moment within the history of perception and aesthetics as well as of policy, demography, and democracy, we get an even more expansive picture of both its origins and its impacts. This talk explores how the racial honing of the residential perception--seeing race like a bureaucrat, an appraiser, and a homeowning neighbor--has become central to the functioning of the residential itself.

She is the co-editor, with Valerie Smith, of Race and Real Estate (Oxford University Press, 2015) and the author of The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).

You can access and read publications by Brown through the UMN Libraries links below:

“Appraisal Narratives: Reading Race on the Midcentury Block” (2018)
“We Wear the White Mask: John Cheever Writes Race” (2018)
“The Architecture of Racial Phenomena” (2018)
The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (2017)
Race and Real Estate (2015)

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