Geographic centralization of French universities

Friday, January 8th, 2010

It is a famous, even infamous fact about French universities that the system is deeply centralized, and centered on Paris. But over the years the university system has diversified and there are now 83 French public universities (of which 5 are in Corsica and the overseas territories). However, as every French academic would surely attest, […]

Universities on strange premises

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

It has slowly dawned on me that a huge number of universities came by their premises, by which I don’t mean their philosophical axioms but their physical environments, in exceedingly peculiar ways. Some of what follows below is hearsay and I don’t really have time to do historical research. But there’s more odd variation here […]

Militant student slogans and iconography in Toulouse

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Last week while I was in Toulouse, I went to take a look at the local university (Mirail), to see if it turned out to be the one in the video I posted about last week. And indeed there were a large number of decrepit buildings, occasionally graced by lovely flowers. But the buildings also […]

Commodification of the sacred in campus landscapes

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Kind of amazed to read this article, “The Power of Place on Campus,” by one Earl Broussard, in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (temp link). Striking because it is so obviously a further step in the marketization of every aspect of campus life. The sacred is invoked as a new fund-raising activity. Is this what […]

Abandoned labs as recycled academic space

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

If you go into the Enrico Fermi Research Institute on campus, the center doors are made of stainless steel like an old diner. And if you go up the stairs and then down the creaky elevator, you emerge in a warren of white corridors and wooden doors. The basement is full of abandoned science labs, […]

The university and skin

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

this is the university’s skin. at the university of illinois-chicago. some building on the south side of roosevelt road. the branches creeping up across the brick and flung in the sun while the wall is in shadow, the brick stained and blurred and colored, the brick covered by creeping vines, the vines dripping down as […]

Gendered patterns of academic space

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Here is a diagram of how students arranged themselves around the room, on the first day of a seminar that happened to be on space and place. It reveals an obviously gendered system of spontaneous spatial organization.

Universities seen through their weeds

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

The skyline of a campus is different when it’s obscured by the trudging stalks of its scrub plants. The university can so easily be made to become a tipsy line drawing mauled by the shadows of leaves and stalks.

Universities and sky 2

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

The University of Chicago decorates the tops of its buildings with crosses. They are mostly lost from view, unless you climb to the top of the towers and look out over the rooftops to see them, crosses silhouetted against the sky.

Universities and graveyards

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

it’s summer in this picture. i was on top of a hill when i took this. i was 18. just before i left for college. the year 2000. the rows of graves run down the hill to the high brick buildings. the silver dome of the basketball stadium rises like a silly saucer. the trees […]