UB's Stratigakos Named Fellow of Rice University Humanities Research Center

Her new book "Hitler at Home," examines fuehrer's domestic social construction

Release Date: April 22, 2010

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Despina Stratigakos has been selected as a fellow of the Rice University Humanities Research Center.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Despina Stratigakos, PhD, assistant professor of architecture in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning and an award-winning architectural historian whose work addresses issues of diversity in architecture, is one of four scholars selected from 84 applicants to be 2010-11 External Fellows of the Rice University Humanities Research Center (HRC).

As a fellow, she will teach a course on gender and architecture in the art history department cross-listed with architecture during the Spring 2011 semester, take part in the intellectual life of the center and participate in a special symposia centered on her research.

Stratigakos was chosen for the fellowship based on her new book, "Hitler at Home," a project funded in part by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, which examines the aesthetic and ideological construction of Hitler's domesticity, a concept strongly sold to the American and European communities in the years leading up to World War II.

"The book will focus on the work of Gerdy Troost," says Stratigakos, "an architect who served as the Fuehrer's interior decorator and artistic advisor from 1930 to 1945."

Troost was the widow of Hitler's favorite architect Ludwig Troost. They supervised the building of the House of German Art in Munich and other structures, but Gerdy later devoted herself to the decorative arts.

In this role, she helped craft Hitler's public image as a country gentleman living in what has been described as a "bright, airy chalet" in the Bavarian Alps -- a home whose predominant color was "a light jade green" and featured a "cozy, pine-paneled study." In a 2003 article in The New York Times, Tom Zeller called those observations, published in 1938 in what he calls "an irony-free" article in the British magazine, Homes & Gardens, "precious and chilling," particularly as they appeared the same month as Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against the Jews.

The Rice fellowship recognizes, as well, Stratigakos' award-winning 2008 book, A Woman's Berlin: Building the Modern City, which has garnered considerable international recognition, and her 2007 exhibition on Architect Barbie at the University of Michigan, which addressed the underrepresentation of women in the field from a playful angle.

The HRC External Fellowship Program is funded by the Lynette S. Autrey Endowment and the National Endowments for the Humanities. The program hosts four visiting professors, chosen for their innovative and cross-disciplinary approach to current and future topics for the humanities, for one semester each.

The three additional scholars selected by the HRC faculty advisory panel for the 2010-11 academic year are Mary Poovey, the Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities at New York University, for her project "A Model of the Future: The History of American Finance Capitalism;" Sabine Hake, professor and the Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at University of Texas at Austin, for "Political Affects: The Fascist Imaginary in Postfascist Cinema;" and Hermann Herlinghaus, professor of Latin American literature and cultural studies at the University of Pittsburgh, for "Toward a Global Aesthetics of Sobriety."

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