What is Birkbeck's Big Ideas?
A series of thought provoking FREE events, designed to inspire and bring world class Birkbeck academics to the local community, with this latest installment from Dr Leslie Topp, Senior Lecturer in History of Architecture.
About the Talk
From the first purpose-built asylums to the psychiatric wards of today, buildings have a lot to tell us about society's attitudes to people with mental illness. Leslie will begin with a 20-minute talk about the history of psychiatric architecture, looking not only at buildings' exteriors, but also at how their interior spaces were arranged, and what this meant for the experiences of the patients at the time. She'll then lead an interactive workshop, using the fascinating floor plans of different psychiatric hospitals, and comparing them with current arrangements, drawing on participants' own experiences of hospitals and other medical spaces.
Who is Dr Leslie Topp?
Leslie Topp grew up in Canada and studied there and in the U.S. before coming to the UK in 1998. She has worked at Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, and has taught nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and architectural history at Birkbeck since 2005. She's written books and articles on the beginnings of modern architecture in Vienna around 1900, and has for the last number of years been fascinated by the history of buildings for the treatment and control of people with mental illness. She co-curated the exhibition "Madness and Modernity: Mental Illness and the Visual Arts in Vienna 1900" in 2009 at the Wellcome Collection, and her book Freedom and the Cage: Modern Architecture and Psychiatry in Central Europe, 1890-1914 was published by Penn State University Press in 2017.
The event is FREE and open to all, but please note that seating is allocated on a first come first served basis. Registration and refreshments start at 6pm and the talk will commence at 6.15pm. We look forward to welcoming you to this Birkbeck's Big Idea event!
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