IATH is delighted to announce its 2021-2022 Resident Fellow, Jessica Sewell, to develop her Digital Urban Cultural Landscapes Guide to Suzhou. Professor Sewell is an Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture, but previously held appointments at Xi’an Jiaotang-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China, where she had begun work studying the cultural landscape of Suzhou.
Suzhou is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its classical gardens, but it also has a well-preserved historical and cultural records and landscape. The area was settled during the Zhou Dynasty and in 514 B.C.E. a city was designed around a royal palace. It played an important role in transportation, economics, politics, and culture for the area, and is still a major manufacturing and foreign investment zone. The Guide will explore the spaces and buildings of Suzhou in their cultural and historical context, focusing particularly on the everyday and the ordinary, and connecting spaces and buildings with themes that cut across multiple areas of the city, such as the spaces of the recently rural, tourism and heritage, the informal economy, the sidewalk and alley as extensions of domestic space, spaces of production and selling, and public recreation. It will marry typologies, sites, history, and themes in order to open up our understanding of the urban cultural landscapes of one particular Chinese city and by extension, Chinese urban cultural landscapes more broadly.
Professor Sewell’s Fellowship marks a shift in the IATH Fellowship cycle: whereas previous Fellowships have begun in June or July, her two-year residency began in January of 2021 and will run through December of 2022. This shift is in part a reflection of the rhythms of the academic year, which have tended to delay the beginnings of project meetings and collaborations.
Every year, IATH awards a two-year Resident Fellowship to UVA humanities faculty. IATH Fellows work closely with IATH staff to design and implement research projects that use digital tools and methodology to develop and publish their scholarship. Recent fellows have examined poetic geography of Russian, early Mormon marriage patterns, the grammar and syntax of endangered languages, and prosopography in 19th and 20th century biographies of women.