Jessica Sewell headshot
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Jessica Ellen Sewell

Associate Professor
Unit: School of Architecture
Department: Department of Urban and Environmental Planning
Office location and address
Peyton House 108
110 Bayly Dr
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Education
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, PhD
MA in Architecture and Design Criticism, Parsons School of Design and the New School for Social Research
BA, Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges
Biography

Jessica Sewell’s research focuses on the relationships between gender and architecture, urban space, and material culture. Her book Women and the Everyday City: Public Space in San Francisco, 1890-1915 (University of Minnesota, 2011) explores how gendered public spaces were imagined, built, and used between 1890 and 1915, making visible the interdependence between changes in the everyday lives of women, the urban cultural landscape, and gender ideology.  Her current research looks at the question of men in private space, focusing on the bachelor pad as a site of masculine fantasy and an urbanized counterpoint to the suburban home in the 1950s-60s United States. She is also author of the app Exploring Suzhou, which provides a cultural landscapes tour of the Chinese city of Suzhou. This app is being used to enrich the teaching in large-enrollment classes in Architecture and Urban Planning and Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University.  Her research has been supported by fellowships and grants from The Institute for Advanced Study, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, the Humanities Institute at Boston University, the Huntington Library, and the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

PLAN 3011: Race and the American City
Credits: 3
A seminar exploring how racialized inequalities have shaped American cities North & South, past & present, and the influence of racialized urban structures on the idea & experience of race in America. Topics include the effects of segregation, redlining, urban planning, redevelopment, white flight, ghettoization, & neoliberal development on the form & culture of American cities & structures of inequality in the US.
PLAN 3040: Metropolis
Credits: 3
This lecture course focuses on cities as centers of cultural, social, and artistic activity. It considers how we define cities, the forces that create and sustain them, and what makes them culturally distinctive. It looks at several cities at their moments of cultural, political, and architectural glory: Istanbul in the 16thcentury, London in the late 17th and 18th centuries, Paris in the 19th century, New York in the 20th century, and Shanghai in the 21st century.
AMST 3425: American Material Culture
Credits: 3
This course will introduce you to the study of material culture, the physical stuff that is part of human life. Material culture includes everything we make and use, from food and clothing to art and buildings. This course is organized into six sections, the first introducing the idea of material culture, and the other five following the life cycle of an object: material, making, designing, selling, using.
AMST 3427: Gender, Things, and Difference
Credits: 3
This class explores how material culture, the physical stuff that is part of human life, is used to help to construct and express gendered and other forms of difference. We will look at how bodies and clothes shape our understanding of our own and others' identities, how we imbue objects with gender, how the food we cook and eat carries cultural meanings, and how the design of buildings and spaces structures gender.
PLAN 3500: Special Topics in Planning
Credits: 1–3
Topical offerings in planning.
AMST 3559: New Course in American Studies
Credits: 1–4
New Course in the subject of American Studies
PLAN 3811: Gender & Built Environment
Credits: 3
This class explores the wide range of approaches that have been taken to the complex relationships between body, sex, gender, and the built environment. Some see buildings as a direct expression of sexed bodies (phallic towers and breast-like domes), while others see buildings and settlements as expressions and reiterations of the gender structures of a culture.
PLAN 4993: Independent Study
Credits: 1–4
Elective courses offered at the request of faculty or students to provide an opportunity for internships, fieldwork, and independent study.
ARH 4999: Major Special Study: Thesis
Credits: 3
Advanced independent research projects by fourth year architectural history students. Prerequisite: Instructor approval and departmental approval of topic.
ARH 5993: Independent Studies in Architectural History
Credits: 1–4
Advanced work on independent research topics by individual students. Departmental approval of the topic is required.
PLAN 6010: Fundamentals of Planning
Credits: 3
Survey course that introduces the field of urban and environmental planning as practiced in the United States. Topics include: history and theory of urbanization and city growth, emergence of the profession in 20th Century; main movements/eras of planning practice (e.g., City Beautiful, urban renewal) and major sub-fields within the profession (e.g., transportation, community development, urban design).
PLAN 6011: Race and the American City
Credits: 3
A seminar exploring how racialized inequalities have shaped American cities North & South, past & present, and the influence of racialized urban structures on the idea & experience of race in America. Topics include the effects of segregation, redlining, urban planning, redevelopment, white flight, ghettoization & neoliberal development on the form & culture of American cities & structures of inequality in the US. Graduate level will have additional requirements.
SARC 6100: Urbanizing Worlds
Credits: 3
This course presents an inter-disciplinary examination of historic and contemporary ideas and practices that shape urban form. Through lectures by faculty members from all four academic departments in the school, the material introduces students to the socioeconomic, cultural, ecological, and political dimensions of urbanization.
PLAN 6500: Special Topics in Planning
Credits: 1–6
Topical offerings in planning.
PLAN 6811: Gender & Built Environment
Credits: 3
This class explores the wide range of approaches that have been taken to the complex relationships between body, sex, gender, and the built environment. Some see buildings as a direct expression of sexed bodies (phallic towers and breast-like domes), while others see buildings and settlements as expressions and reiterations of the gender structures of a culture.
PLAN 7040: Advanced Metropolis
Credits: 3
This lecture course focuses on cities as centers of cultural, social, and artistic activity. It considers how we define cities, the forces that create and sustain them, and what makes them culturally distinctive. It looks at several cities at their moments of cultural, political, and architectural glory: Istanbul in the 16thcentury, London in the late 17th and 18th centuries, Paris in the 19th century, New York in the 20th century, and Shanghai in the 21st century.
ARH 7993: Independent Study: Architectural History
Credits: 1–3
Independent research on topics selected by individual students in consultation with a faculty advisor.
PLAN 8811: Advanced Gender & Built Environment
Credits: 3
This class explores the wide range of approaches that have been taken to the complex relationships between body, sex, gender, and the built environment. Some see buildings as a direct expression of sexed bodies (phallic towers and breast-like domes), while others see buildings and settlements as expressions and reiterations of the gender structures of a culture.
SARC 9993: Advanced Independent Research
Credits: 1–6
Advanced independent research on topics selected by individual students in consultation with a faculty advisor. Prerequisite: Permission of the Director.
SARC 9998: Non-Topical Doctoral Prep
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.