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Landscape as Experience: Rationalist Movement in Soviet Architecture, 1919–1941

Alla Vronskaya, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Junior Fellow 2011/12

The Dumbarton Oaks Junior fellowship enabled me to work on my dissertation, “Rationalizing Perception: Psychophysiological Aesthetics and Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1919–1941,” concentrating on the chapter devoted to the philosophical (empiriocriticist) background of the so-called Rationalist movement in Soviet architecture and on the one dealing with the ensuing projects for public parks and urban landscapes. This was a crucial step that allowed me to reflect on the archival material that I collected during the previous years. Using the extensive resources on garden and landscape history in the Dumbarton Oaks Library, which I could supplement with the collection of Russian and Soviet literature at the nearby Library of Congress, I was able to substantiate my argument putting it into the context of the history of modernist landscape architecture. In this endeavor, I received helpful advice and support from daily conversations with my Garden and Landscape Studies colleagues, John Beardsley, Michael Lee, Louis Cellauro, Michael Herchenbach, and especially Robin Veder, with whom we had many useful discussions of the role of kinesthetic perception in the history of modernist landscapes in Europe and the United States. I am thankful to them and to all the others at Dumbarton Oaks—staff members, visiting scholars and other fellows—who made my term here such a productive and pleasurable experience.

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