Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics · Theory

Shedding the Superwoman Myth

Debora L. Spar writes: In 2005, I was teaching a first-year class at Harvard Business School. As usual, slightly under a third of my students were women. As always, I was the only female professor.

So one evening, my female students asked me and one of my female colleagues to join them for cocktails. They ordered a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres and white wine. They presented each of us with an elegant lavender plant. And then, like women meeting for cocktails often do, they—well, we, actually—proceeded to complain. About how tough it was to be so constantly in the minority. About how the guys sucked up all the air around the school. About the folks in career services who told them never to wear anything but a good black pantsuit to an interview.

Over the course of the conversation, though, things began to turn. The women stopped talking about their present lives and started to focus on their futures, futures that had little to do with conferences or pantsuits and everything to do with babies, and families, and men. Most of the women were frankly intending to work “for a year or two” and then move into motherhood. These were some of the smartest and most determined young women in the country. They had Ivy League degrees, for the most part, and were in the midst of paying more than $100,000 for an M.B.A. And yet they were already deeply concerned about how they would juggle their lives, and surprisingly pessimistic about their chances of doing so.

Continue text at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Digital Media · Human-ities · Technology

Romanticism, Myths, and Video Games

Myths used to be in our verbal traditions, in our religious parables, in our folk songs. Now, myths are in our movies, our plays, our pop anthems, our cat videos, our comics, our television shows as they spin out over decades, our political sound bites and our corporate press releases. They’re coded into every kind of medium, art form, aphorism and anecdote. Some are disguised as history and theory; others masquerade as universal themes, woven into specific stories by force of habit and intuition. It is the repetition of these stories in all these forms, stubbornly reciting the tautologies of our collective past, that makes them indispensable, the tensile layer between our levels of awareness.

Myths are in our history books, complete with footnotes and citations.

And myths are in our video games.

“Myths have no life of their own. They wait for us to give them flesh. If one man in the world answers their call, they give us their strength in all its fullness. We must preserve this myth, and ensure that its slumber is not mortal so that its resurrection is possible.” – Albert Camus, Prometheus in the Underworld, 1947

Excerpt from a text by Jesse Miksic at Berfrois. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Human-ities · Performativity · Projects · Public Space · Social/Politics

Understanding the Child-Scale in the City

“The acquisition and use of environmental knowledge are key aspects of a child’s socialization and experiential data of this is important; we can collect and interpret it with a measured confidence because we are human ourselves.”

What is the child-scale? How can we begin to understand it? How can this experience inform building and design ideas and practice?

Play is intensely important. Start developing an idea of (non)designing for playing. The walk that this extract depicts brought forth ideas of grain/granularity of street surfaces (materials), balance and tracing (paths, curbs), humble events, routine/ritual, liquid (refreshment, ballistics, power)… for a start.

Text and Images from a-small-lab, a project by Chris Berthelsen. Based in Tokyo. Continue to project HERE

Human-ities · Science

Is Mythology Like Facebook?

How can you tell if an ancient story is completely fictional or based on reality? One method, says a team of physicists, is to map out the social network of the characters and test whether it looks like a real social network. When they used that method for three ancient myths, they found that the characters have surprisingly realistic relationships.

Ancient stories are called myths for a reason. No one believes that Beowulf, the hero of the Anglo-Saxon epic, slew a talking monster named Grendel. Or that the Greek gods described in The Iliad actually appeared on Earth to intervene in the Trojan War. But historians and archaeologists agree that much of those ancient narratives was based on real people and events. The supernatural features of the narrative were then layered onto reality.

Excerpt of an article written by John Bohannon, Science NOW. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Education · Film/Video/New Media · Projects · Public Space · Social/Politics

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

“If you design with a view to optimize anything, it is bound to end up suboptimal, because it can’t cope with change. This applies as much to political constitutions, universities and buildings”
~ Jeff Mulgan

It began as a housing marvel. Two decades later, it ended in rubble. But what happened to those caught in between? The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. At the film’s historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization and emptied American cities of their residents, businesses, and industries. Those left behind in the city faced a destitute, rapidly de-industrializing St. Louis , parceled out to downtown interests and increasingly segregated by class and race. The residents of Pruitt-Igoe were among the hardest hit. Their gripping stories of survival, adaptation, and success are at the emotional heart of the film. The domestic turmoil wrought by punitive public welfare policies; the frustrating interactions with a paternalistic and cash-strapped Housing Authority; and the downward spiral of vacancy, vandalism and crime led to resident protest and action during the 1969 Rent Strike, the first in the history of public housing. And yet, despite this complex history, Pruitt-Igoe has often been stereotyped. The world-famous image of its implosion has helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight. To examine the interests involved in Pruitt-Igoe’s creation. To re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma. To implode the myth.

Via The Pruitt-Igoe Myth