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Holding Forth

Holding Forth


Every campus has architectural features particularly well-suited for smokers to hang out.  The front entrance to the Humanities Center (formerly Phillips Science) has long been a favorite spot.  In this publicity photo, Prof. Hoyt Kaylor recreates the well-known scene, even down to the pipe which he no longer smoked.  These days, students can often find Prof. Myers on the stoop, puffing on his pipe and reading, or holding forth on the weighty philosophical issues of the day.


Students with ProfSchools go to a great deal of effort to create spaces that will foster interchanges between students and faculty.  Such connections form the cornerstone of an intellectual community, but spaces planned for this purpose often go unused.  Perhaps this is because the inherent rigidity of campus design works against the fluidity and spontaneity of such exchanges.  Colleges and universities are among the most planned environments in a society: the placement of buildings prescribed by the standard quadrangle model; buildings designed in a grand and imposing style; the frequent separation of academic (faculty) space and extracurricular (student) space.  There's no place for “folk architecture” in this plan; however, folk appropriation of space is quite common.  Many folklorists and anthropologists have written on the appropriation of workspace by workers as an effort toward empowerment in a situation that otherwise provides little opportunity for it.  In the case of the Humanities stoop, however, members of the campus community seem to be carving out their own homey niches among the grand and impersonal stone.


  • How long has this spot been appropriated by pipe-smoking professors?

  • Are there other architectural features on campus that lend themselves to such uses?
  • Do these spaces tend to be populated by only professors? Only students? Or do they tend to places where the two groups come together?


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