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Walking through Dumbarton Oaks: Early Twentieth-century Bourgeois Bodily Techniques and Kinesthetic Experience of Landscape

Robin Veder
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 72, No. 1 (March 2013), pp. 5-27
DOI: 10.1525/jsah.2013.72.1.5
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jsah.2013.72.1.5
Page Count: 23
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Walking through Dumbarton Oaks
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Abstract

Walking through Dumbarton Oaks: Early Twentieth-century Bourgeois Bodily Techniques and Kinesthetic Experience of Landscape places landscape architect Beatrix Farrand’s design for rhythmic steps and landings at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., into the contexts of early twentieth-century practices of walking and notions of aesthetic muscular response. Robin Veder argues that in this period kinesthesia was a recognized sixth sense and a significant aesthetic concern in landscape design and reception. The essay is structured to demonstrate methodologically how the history of the body can be employed to denaturalize and historicize phenomenology, and thus enrich explanations of built environments. Veder explores four frames for understanding the kinesthetic experience of walking through landscape. They are choreographic dictates for how designers wanted bodies to move, individual performances of movement through space, the clothing and muscular habits that constituted bodily techniques for walking, as well as the psychological and physiological aesthetics of kinesthetic empathy.

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