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Amaza Lee Meredith Imagines Herself Modern: Architecture and the Black American Middle Class

Amaza Lee Meredith Imagines Herself Modern: Architecture and the Black American Middle Class

Current price: $39.95
Publication Date: November 28th, 2023
Publisher:
The MIT Press
ISBN:
9780262048347
Pages:
288
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Description

The extraordinary life and work of architect Amaza Lee Meredith, and the role modernism and material culture played in the aspiring Black American middle class of the early twentieth century.

Amaza Lee Meredith Imagines Herself Modern tells the captivating story of Amaza Lee Meredith, a Black woman architect, artist, and educator born into the Jim Crow South, whose bold choices in both life and architecture expand our understanding of the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, while revealing the importance of architecture as a force in Black middle-class identity. Through her charismatic protagonist, Jacqueline Taylor derives new insights into the experiences of Black women at the forefront of culture in early twentieth-century America, caught between expectation and ambition, responsibility and desire.  

Central to Taylor’s argument is that Meredith’s response to modern architecture and art, like those of other Black cultural producers, was not marginal to the modernist project; instead, her work reveals the tensions and inconsistencies in how American modernism has been defined. In this way, the book shines a necessary light on modernism’s complexity, while overturning perceived notions of race and gender in relation to the modernist project and challenging the notion of the white male hero of modern architecture.

About the Author

Jacqueline Taylor is an award-winning researcher and writer who focuses on the built environment and art with specific reference to issues of race and gender. She has worked in public practice and academe and has published widely in edited volumes and anthologies, including Southern Cultures and Suffragette City: Women, Politics, and the Built Environment.

Praise for Amaza Lee Meredith Imagines Herself Modern: Architecture and the Black American Middle Class

Included in Publishers Weekly's Fall 2023 Adult Announcements Art, Architecture & Photography Top 10 List

“Taylor’s work shines a light on this trailblazing figure in history.”
Essence

“Taylor chronicles the life and work of Amaza Lee Meredith, a Black woman architect, artist, and educator who expanded our understanding of the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance. Using Meredith as a lens to study the role architecture played in early twentieth-century Black middle-class identity, Taylor shows that Meredith, like so many other Black cultural producers, wasn’t marginal to the modernist project but rather central to its definition.”
—The Millions

“This book is about rather more than Meredith’s life story […] Taylor uses this as the lens for exploring the wider societal context of Meredith’s life as an independent professional Black woman ploughing her own course during the inter-war years in America.”  
RIBA Journal