PROFESSOR HEADS TO ROME TO RESEARCH 17TH-CENTURY MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY ARCHITECTURE
When architecture professor Patricia Waddy stumbled upon a misfiled account book while researching the Giustianni family in the State Archives in Rome, she found a new focus for her energy and expertise: the 17th-century Roman architecture of houses owned by the Del Bufalo family. Since that day in 1994, Waddy has worked to gain support and funding to conduct further research. Finally her efforts paid off: She headed to Rome this semester for two years supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation.
One might wonder how she changed course so easily from the Giustiannis to the Del Bufalos. The chance find "was even better than what I was working on before," she says. "Their properties, whether lived in or rented out, present the range of dwellings of most Romans. The processes by which they were accumulated and shaped provide a paradigm for Roman building. While large, prominent palaces may attract more attention, the Del Bufalo buildings show us more of the dynamic fabric of the city."
While her fellowships will take her away from the SU classrooms where she has taught the history of architecture for more than 20 years, her work in Rome will be invaluable to her students. "I can show my students the visual evidence of what we discuss in class," she says.
For Waddy, who specializes in palace architecture, the Del Bufalos provide a challenge because they were lower in the social hierarchy. She is attempting to learn the history of these structures and their connection with the family and the city. "With my historical imagination, I can peel back the layers," she says, referring to centuries of additions and changes made to the houses by later generations. Buildings were constructed as art forms, and art reflects the time period in which it is created. In this way, each building tells a storyand Waddy will attempt to record it. "There is a continuum of housing types throughout the social hierarchy," she says. "I am interested in seeing where it changes-that middle range."
When teaching about different buildings, Waddy often discusses the renowned architects of history. Studying the architecture of such middle-class families as the Del Bufalos is often overlooked. Her Del Bufalo study will uncover the mid-level architects and functionaries in the shadow of the great architects. "I try to bring out this notion of buildings' lives over time," says Waddy, who plans to write a book based on her research.
Because Roman buildings feature masonry, they have survived many centuries, leaving a wealth of material for historians to examine. Waddy has already restructured her class to include the idea of building longevity.
While studying the dozen or so Del Bufalo houses, Waddy will take plenty of pictures to use as slides in the classroom. "Anything that's alive changes, and buildings are living, organic things," she says. "They'll be involved in people's lives as long as we want and need them."
FRESHMAN FORUM STUDENTS GATHER FOR A UNIFYING EXPERIENCE
Presidential history and baseball may seem to be unlikely parallels, but Freshman Forum students heard how the two converged in the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin discusses baseball and politics in the Freshman Forum lecture.
Goodwin, who gave this fall's Freshman Forum lecture, described her years following the Brooklyn Dodgers and reporting vivid details of the games to her father when he returned home from work. In her life, following the Dodgers became a way to preserve family history.
Goodwin's detailed documentation of the Dodgers, along with her mother's affection for storytelling, prepared her well for her career as biographer for some of America's most notable leaders. "In some ways I think I learned the narrative art through those evenings with my father," she told students. Goodwin's lecture, "The Private Lives of Public Figures," was particularly poignant following the release of the Starr report. Goodwin believes the investigation may have irrevocably damaged the Clinton presidency. "It's hard to figure out how his authority will remain intact," she said. The lecture was among the high points of Freshman Forum, which is required for all first-year students in The College of Arts and Sciences.
"Part of the lecture's purpose is to give students some sense of unity," says Stewart Thau, associate dean. "This is one event that brings all the arts and sciences students together." Students also read and discuss the lecturer's work in their weekly group meetings with forum advisors.
Since the forum was first offered in 1990, it has gradually shifted from being solely academic-centered to emphasizing adjustment to college life. "It shows the students what faculty members are like," Thau says. Forum leaders often serve as advisors to most of the students in their 15-member sections. The goal is to keep the advisory relationships intact for as long as possible, Thau says.
Members of each section meet outside the classroom, at least once socially, and attend cultural events during the semester. "We keep it flexible," Thau says. "It's a general introduction to the University, but we also want students to think about some area of general academic interest."
Leah Comeau '02 says Freshman Forum has enhanced her first year at SU. Her section visited the newly refurbished Holden Observatory and the Burnet Park Zoo. "We wanted to do something off campus, since most students are not that familiar with the area," she says. "But the best thing is that it establishes a group of people you can really talk to."