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Dayton Professor of Art History Abigail Van Slyck has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award at the University of York, in York, England.
The Fulbright award will support Van Slyck’s research on the history of childhood and the role of architecture in reproducing elite identity. She will be in residence at the University of York in fall 2019 and will conduct research in the U.K. In particular, she will lead a detailed study of the Swiss Cottage, built for the children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
“The University of York has one of the largest communities of architectural historians in any art history department in the U.K., so this award represents a wonderful opportunity for me to engage with scholars about architecture’s role in naturalizing privilege—the issue at the heart of my current project,” Van Slyck said.
Van Slyck, who served as dean of the faculty from 2014-2018, has directed the Architectural Studies Program at Conn, an interdisciplinary course of study that seeks to prepare students for further work in architectural history, architectural design, historic preservation and a wide range of related disciplines.
She is the recipient of the College’s 2009 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments.
With the support of grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Spencer Foundation, she has studied summer camps for children, organizations that have been entrusted with socializing millions of children since they first appeared on the American landscape in the late 19th century. Although camp buildings do not fall within conventional definitions of the term architecture, a close consideration of their form and use offers special insights into several aspects of American culture in the 20th century: attitudes about gender roles, notions of health, ideas about nature, and perceptions of Native American peoples.
This research resulted in a book, A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890–1960 (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), in which she examines the intersections of the natural landscape with human-built forms and social activities. The book was honored with both the Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians and the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize.
Van Slyck joined Connecticut College in 1999.