Thursday, September 5, 2019

Archaeology In and Of Chicago

The 1893 World’s Fair, the Charnley House, and the Future of Urban Archaeology - Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Graff 
(early start at 2:30pm!)

On September 29, Dr. Rebecca Graff, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lake Forest College, opens our 2019-2020 lecture season (at 2:30pm) with an intriguing and fresh look at “what lies beneath” our very local feet.

Drawing from her upcoming book, Disposing of Modernity: The Archaeology of Garbage and Consumerism During Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair (University Press of Florida and Society for Historical Archaeology/SHA, Fall 2020), Dr. Graff will introduce her research project centered on excavations at Jackson Park, the former site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and at the Charnley-Persky House, an 1892 Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Based upon archaeological and archival research on the Fair’s ephemeral Ohio Building and a historic artifact midden at the Charnley-Persky House, this talk will engage with a critical period in the nation’s history to address the ambivalent reactions to the changing world of turn-of-the-twentieth-century urban America. 

Both the Chicago Fair and the Charnley House showed the transformative potential of new forms and technologies for daily life, many of which are still materially present. The talk will cover topics including the history of world’s fairs and expositions, the planning of the Chicago Fair, the Charnley House’s architecture and aesthetics, and how fairs created markets for new products and how the public constituted themselves as modern subjects by consuming them. It will conclude with Jackson Park’s current reappearance on the world stage as the future home of the Obama Presidential Center, and a look toward at-risk archaeological sites and the place of archaeology for Chicagoans today.

Material serving as the basis  of her forthcoming book earned Dr. Graff the 2013 Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award from the Society for Historical Archaeology. 

Dr. Graff received her BA in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. 

As an historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-Century urban United States, she explores the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, and contemporary heritage and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. She has excavated at sites in Israel, Honduras, France, the Bahamas, New Orleans, San Francisco, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Chicago. 

Dr. Graff has directed excavations in several sites in Chicago as undergraduate archaeological field schools for the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Lake Forest College at sites including the Gray-Cloud House and Mecca Flats. She is currently excavating the former site of an African Methodist Epsicopal Church in Lake Forest with her undergraduate students.

We look forward to her presentation opening our lecture series on September 29. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Our meeting will begin ONE HOUR EARLIER THAN USUAL, with social hour at 2:00pm, and speaker beginning at 2:30pm.

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