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CFP: Electric Interiors from the Nineteenth Century to the Present

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    Helena Dean

    Electric Interiors from the Nineteenth Century to the Present

    Session at the SAH 2022 Pittsburgh conference. The submission deadline has been extended to Tuesday, June 8, at 11:59 pm CDT.

    How did the introduction of electricity and subsequent development of electronics transform the design, use and experience of interiors? Science has investigated electricity since antiquity, but its transformative potential for interiors was realized only in the late nineteenth century when the introduction of devices such as the telegraph (1844) and the lightbulb (1878) connected and illuminated interior spaces. In the twentieth century, electrically powered circuitry and transistors further transformed the interior, causing reactions which ranged from delight to alarm about the prospect of the interior becoming something like a space capsule.

    More recently, the advent of the internet, smart homes and cyberspace has further transformed our dwellings, workspaces and vehicles into fully electrified interiors laced with feelings of optimism and loss whose ramifications are only just beginning to be considered.

    This session seeks to foreground electricity in order to consider how it has shaped our interiors and ourselves over the last century and a half through appliances, devices and networks integrating spaces with media and communications, while also delivering and limiting agency to the makers and users of interiors. Although electrification’s impact upon cities and countryside, infrastructure and world’s fairs has been discussed, its effect upon interiors of all sorts merits investigation as the overlooked but critical meeting point for the intersection of the design fields and electricity. Proposals are welcome that complicate subject matter by considering the roles of capital, colonialism, political power, consumerism, media, gender, sexuality, race, climate and more.Organized by the SAH Historic Interiors Affiliate Group.

    Session Chair: Timothy M. Rohan, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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