New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Celebrating Recent Work by Reinhold Martin

Friday, March 26, 2021  1:00pm Virtual Event at 1:00pm (EDT)


Free and open to the public

Registration required


The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities


Center for Comparative Media

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New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Reinhold Martin

Knowledge Worlds: Media, Materiality, and the Making of the Modern University
By: Reinhold Martin

What do the technical practices, procedures, and systems that have shaped institutions of higher learning in the United States, from the Ivy League and women’s colleges to historically black colleges and land-grant universities, teach us about the production and distribution of knowledge? Addressing media theory, architectural history, and the history of academia, Knowledge Worlds reconceives the university as a media complex comprising a network of infrastructures and operations through which knowledge is made, conveyed, and withheld.

Reinhold Martin argues that the material infrastructures of the modern university—the architecture of academic buildings, the configuration of seminar tables, the organization of campus plans—reveal the ways in which knowledge is created and reproduced in different kinds of institutions. He reconstructs changes in aesthetic strategies, pedagogical techniques, and political economy to show how the boundaries that govern higher education have shifted over the past two centuries. From colleges chartered as rights-bearing corporations to research universities conceived as knowledge factories, educating some has always depended upon excluding others. Knowledge Worlds shows how the division of intellectual labor was redrawn as new students entered, expertise circulated, science repurposed old myths, and humanists cultivated new forms of social and intellectual capital. Combining histories of architecture, technology, knowledge, and institutions into a critical media history, Martin traces the uneven movement in the academy from liberal to neoliberal reason.

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Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

About the Author:

Reinhold Martin is Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP, where he directs the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. He is the author of The Organizational Complex: Architecture, Media, and Corporate Space (MIT Press, 2003), and Utopia’s Ghost: Architecture and Postmodernism, Again (Minnesota, 2010), as well as the co-author, with Kadambari Baxi, of Multi-National City: Architectural Itineraries (Actar, 2007).

About the Speakers:

Weihong Bao is Associate Professor of Chinese and Film Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, February 2015). Her writings appear in such journals as Camera Obscura, New German Critique, Nineteenth Century Theater and Film, Opera Quarterly, The Journal of Chinese Cinemas, The Journal of Modern Chinese Literature, American Anthropologist, and Yingshi wenhua as well as The Blackwell Companion to Chinese Cinema.

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, a Professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University. Wilson has published two books Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016) and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (University of California Press 2012).

Zeynep Çelik Alexander is Associate Professor of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University. She is the author of Kinaesthetic Knowing: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Modern Design,  Design Technics: Archaeologies of Architectural Practice, and an editor of the journal Grey Room.

Lucia Allais is an Associate Professor at Columbia GSAPP. She is the author of the book Designs of Destruction: The Making of Monuments in the Twentieth Century‚Äč and has published widely in a number of edited volumes and journals, including Grey Room, October, Perspecta, Log, ArtForum, and Future Anterior.



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