Bernadette Blanchon-Caillot; BE Colloquium, 2012.02.21

Prof. Blanchon-Caillot presented at our department colloquium. As a landscape architect speaking to PhD students, she tailored her presentation to speak about theoretical and methodological approaches to landscape criticism. The presentation was illuminating in several ways. First, we Urban Archivists have concerned ourselves with analysis and criticism of landscape and built environment. During the course of the project, we have thought about, and refined, the methodology behind our work as well. So it was great to hear how someone else has approached landscape from an academic perspective. It’s always good to engage in “shop talk,” so to speak. (In fact, this reconceptualization might actually get me excited to speak of methodology.) Secondly, I have always had an affinity for John Jakle’s 1987 The Visual Elements of Landscape, partially because Prof. Jakle opened my eyes as an undergrad to geography, the interesting social kind of geography. So I appreciated Prof. Blanchon-Caillot’s updated approach to this long trajectory of thought. As she stated, landscape critiques are cumulative and build on one another; in a sense, this is the methodological version of that idea. Thirdly, as my colleagues and I have previously approached landscape through communication and social sciences, I liked hearing about this from landcape architect’s perspective.

Here are the notes that I scribbled:


Finally, toward the end of her presentation, Prof. Blanchon-Caillot spoke about something that made my archivist’s heart beat three times faster. She spoke of creating personal (professional) archives of the academic materials generated in the academic process of landscape critique. Such materials, she said, could be used later either by oneself or by other researchers. These could be people doing historical research, for example, or merely others following another line of academic inquiry. In any case, I agree with her wholeheartedly that such materials have value–surplus value, I’d call it–beyond that generated during the life of the original project. Of course, it resonated with me as this notion of future surplus value is a large part of Urban Archives philosophy.

So, Digital Humanities-ists! I call your attention to the bottom right portion of my meticulous and well-organized notes. On one side, we have faculty members generating useful and fascinating historical materials in need of preservation and access into perpetuity. On the other side, you have you librarians who are looking to ally yourselves with faculty in creating great projects. Note that you can even sidestep the old “tenure-worthy” publication versus alternative publishing conundrum. After all, these are materials that are being generated to support tenure-track publication; for example, much of Prof. Blanchon-Caillot’s archival materials are a result of work she has done for Journal of Landscape Architecture.

DH librarians, these are the faculty you need to find. Social science and humanities faculty, you need to work with your librarians.

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