After completing a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, History of Modern Architecture Professor Sandy Isenstadt began his teaching career at the Department of Art History in 2010. Professor Isenstadt’s focus has lead to research in topics as broad as built environments in the Middle East, to spatial infrastructures and modern shopping, to American houses and middle class identity. Isenstadt is currently working on a new book titled Electric Light: An Architectural History, which, he explains, “aims to reconceive modernism in American architecture to include not just the aesthetic expression of new materials and methods of construction (glass walls, steel frames, etc.), but also new perceptual conditions and new visual habits that were the direct result of electric lighting.” The book will be available through MIT Press this summer.
Not only is Professor Isenstadt an accomplished faculty member here at UD, he is also the first Vice President of the Society of Architectural Historians, and is about to become president of the group.
Professor Isenstadt will also be teaching an undergraduate seminar course this spring on a topic that is familiar yet rich in political history and architectural coding: the American suburb. When asked what motivated the creation of this course, Isenstadt said, “as a historian, I am interested in helping students see the extent to which the world they live in is an artifact of history… I hope that, after the class, students will return to their homes and see familiar places of childhood with new eyes, appreciating the depths of time and political and social changes that made the suburbs what they have become.”
When asked what his favorite style home is, Isenstadt said, “…I love all sorts of buildings, even those that many think are unlovable. So I like traditional style houses but, at root, I'm a modernist. My own townhouse in Philadelphia looks like the other 19th century houses on my block but inside it's wide open, with exposed beams, and has a big glass wall at the back. I love it.”
The Department of Art History is very excited to see what comes out of Professor Isenstadt’s course this Spring, as well as his new book in the summer. Be sure to look out for more faculty highlights in the future.