Alumnus Harrison Blackman '17 shares his research in Athens

Oct 23, 2018

The Delos Network Workshop welcomed 2017 alumnus Harrison Blackman to Athens this autumn. The Network invited Harrison to present elements of his prize-winning Senior Thesis that concentrated on the work of architect and planner Constantinos Doxiadis in mid-20th century Philadelphia. Blackman, who is pursuing an MFA in creative writing, forged connections through Hellenic Studies that connect regions and build his professional network as a young writer. 

A video of his lecture is available.

Below is the abstract of his talk:

The Visionary in the Marsh: Doxiadis and the Dream of Eastwick
Harrison Blackman, MFA Candidate, Department of English, University of Nevada, Reno

In the late 1950s, the Philadelphia neighborhood of Eastwick was in a state of appalling decay—abandoned houses, illegal dumps, and rodent infestations marked the swampy terrain, revealing a society in trouble. To address the situation, city planning director Edmund Bacon made a logical and consequential choice: he hired the world-famous architect and planner Constantinos Doxiadis. The Athenian was no stranger to working in less-than-ideal conditions—in Greece, he had led a resistance group against the German Occupation; in Iraq, his team of architects survived a coup d’état; in Pakistan, he had realized an entire city from the ground up. Doxiadis’ efforts in Eastwick were no less ambitious—at the time, many considered it the largest urban renewal effort in American history. And despite the praise of its initial residents, the redeveloped Eastwick never took off, and today, to the untrained eye, it appears an unremarkable, low-income suburb on the fringes of the Philadelphia airport. What happened to Eastwick? The answer lies not in the idealistic vision of its international master planner, but what his dream ran up against. At the heart of Eastwick’s disappointment was a deep-seated American phenomenon—the racial prejudice of its prospective inhabitants.

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