Carter Manny Award

  • Housing Identities: Displaying Race and Environment in Paris, 1870–1892
    Kylie R. J. Seltzer

Charles Garnier, Preparatory Watercolor of the Waterside, Iron Age, and German dwellings for History of Human Habitations, ca. 1888, Paris, France. Courtesy of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Kylie R. J. Seltzer, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History of Art and Architecture, is the recipient of the 2018 Carter Manny Writing Award.

This dissertation examines how full-size reproductions of human housing were used as a tool to visualize the racial identity of the Other in late nineteenth-century Paris. Displayed at the Jardin d’Acclimatation and the Exposition universelle of 1889, these populated housing exhibits purported to be scientifically accurate representations of non-Europeans, French colonial subjects, and historic ethnic groups. By situating these housing specimens within the urban fabric of Paris, this research demonstrates that Parisian viewers were uniquely poised to understand the scientific ideas that these structures embodied and argues that the subject of housing was a powerful vehicle through which to teach the public visually. Analyzing the intersection of architecture, scientific race thinking, and the urban environment of Paris reveals how the French used the subject of housing to express notions of the Other’s identity.

Kylie R. J. Seltzer is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture (HAA) department at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated summa cum laude with high distinction from the University of Minnesota, earning a BA in French and Italian studies and art history. When she is not working on her dissertation, Seltzer is dedicated to building community both within and beyond the university. As the recipient of the HAA department’s Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching award, she is committed to mentoring undergraduate and graduate students alike. During the 2018–19 academic year, she will serve her second consecutive term as the department’s teaching assistant mentor, where she supports the graduate community through encouragement, feedback on teaching effectiveness, and as a liaison between students and faculty. Outside the university, Seltzer is passionate about improving her local community; she is the founder of Trashy PGH, an organization dedicated to addressing the litter problem in Pittsburgh’s urban neighborhoods.