January 9, 2019

Caroline Levine Announced as Spring 2018 Herbert Baumer Distinguished Visiting Professor

The Baumer Theory Seminar will examine the intersection of architectural and literary theory using author and educator Caroline Levine’s recent book, Forms.

Author and educator Caroline Levine is the Knowlton School’s Spring 2018 Herbert Baumer Distinguished Visiting Professor. The Baumer Seminar offers advanced architecture students an in-depth look at the work of noted architectural practitioners and theorists from within and outside the field.

Levine is David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities in the Department of English at Cornell University. Levine taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to Cornell, where she was co-founder of the Mellon World Literatures Workshop. She has spent her career asking how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. Levine argues for the understanding of forms and structures as crucial to understanding links between art and society.

Levine is the author of three books, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (2003, winner of the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies), Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (2007), and Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015, named one of Flavorwire’s “10 Must-Read Academic Books of 2015”), for which she received the 47th annual James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association. She is currently the nineteenth-century editor for the Norton Anthology of World Literature and has written on topics ranging from formalist theory to Victorian poetry and from television serials to academic freedom.

The Baumer Theory Seminar will examine the intersection of architectural and literary theory using Levine’s recent book, Forms, and other readings from architectural and literary theory as guides. Students will examine the two fields’ shared theoretical and methodological legacies in formalist close reading and historicist critique, and will devote considerable attention to aesthetic and political implications. Students will apply close reading techniques to examine works of literature, film and architecture. 


Caroline Levine joins a long list of prominent practitioners and scholars as Baumer Professors since the program’s inception in 1996, including Stan Allen, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, Eric Owen Moss, Greg Lynn, Sylvia Lavin, Preston Scott Cohen, Neil Denari and last year’s Baumer Professors Ryue Nishizawa and Sanford Kwinter. During the course of their time at Knowlton, Baumer Professors lead a graduate design seminar and present a public lecture as part of the School’s Baumer Lecture Series.

Caroline Levine will lecture in Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17. The talk is free and open to the public.