Adrienne Brown, "The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017)


Adrienne Brown joins the New Books Network this week to talk about her fascinating 2017 book, The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), which was a recent recipient of the Modern Studies Association's First Book prize. Tracing the interconnected histories of the skyscraper and racial thought between the 1880s and the 1930s, Brown provides a sophisticated account of how vertical as well as horizontal expansion within the modern American city helped to shape perceptions and understandings of race and racial difference. Drawing on a rich array of material, including art, literature, architectural design and urban planning records, The Black Skyscraper explores architecture's effects on the process of seeing and being seen as a racialized subject. In this bold and deeply interdisciplinary work, Brown demonstrates the centrality of race to modern architectural design and the impact of the skyscraper on perceptions of race in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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James West

James West is a historian of race, media and business in the modern United States and Black diaspora. Author of "Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America" (Illinois, 2020), "A House for the Struggle: The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago" (Illinois, 2022), "Our Kind of Historian: The Work and Activism of Lerone Bennett Jr. (Massachusetts, 2022).

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