Jacob Boswell Announced as Mellon Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Jacob Boswell (MLA '07, MCRP '07) has been announced as a Mellon Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies for the spring term of the 2017-2018 at Dumbarton Oaks. Located in Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute affiliated with the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences that supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, internships and exhibitions. The Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies offers semester-long fellowships to humanities scholars and landscape practitioners, with the purpose of building constructive dialogue between them about the history and future of urban landscapes, and encouraging them to bridge the gap between their professional modes of thinking. 

While at Dumbarton Oaks, Boswell will trace the implications of fin-de-siècle theories of climate and disease for American urbanism. He will study their codification in the passage of and rhetoric around Progressive era laws concerned with the maintenance of the physical urban environment – specifically urban weed and blight ordinances—and their desired impact on health and the body. To develop his research essay he will use four American cities as test cases: Washington, DC; Memphis, Tennessee; Cleveland, Ohio, and San Francisco, California. Explaining the selection of these locations, Boswell stated, "I choose these cities with an interest in the way that their respective ordinances, the application of those ordinances and the civic rhetoric surrounding them differ between cities in different climates and with differing racial and ethnic histories. All four of these cities experienced major redevelopment during the Progressive era and those projects should provide fertile ground for rhetorical analysis." 

Developed through archival research, mappings and diagrams, Boswell's essay will be written as a stand-alone piece, with the intention that it will eventually form part of a book that captures and organizes a range of American landscapes around particular paradigms of climate modification. 

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