• The Architecture of Disability in Modern France
    Sun-Young Park

The gymnasium at the Institute for Blind Youth. Source: Edmond Texier, Tableau de Paris (Paris: Paulin et Le Chevalier, 1853), 2:193. Courtesy of BnF.

Spanning the eras between 1750 and 1950, The Architecture of Disability in Modern France analyzes architectural and urban designs for disabled subjects on one hand, and recovers their negotiation of environments created for “normalized” subjects on the other. In these decades of political, social, and intellectual revolutions, and as conceptions of disability shifted from moral to scientific terms, material interfaces played increasingly formative roles in programs of education, therapy, and integration. This book traces the architectural evolution of the earliest special-needs institutions, starting with the Enlightenment-era Royal Institute for Blind Youth and National Institute for Deaf-Mutes. It also examines urban reform measures that gradually made cities more navigable for the disabled, from hygienic innovations to Braille system implementation and movement toward accessible design. Ultimately, it argues that these developments struck at the heart of charged debates on citizenship and the public sphere in a society transitioning from monarchism to republicanism.

Sun-Young Park is an architectural and urban historian specializing in modern France, currently assistant professor at George Mason University’s Department of History and Art History. Her work lies at the intersection of cultural history, history of the built environment, and history of medicine. Her first book, Ideals of the Body: Architecture, Urbanism, and Hygiene in Postrevolutionary Paris, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2018. Park received a BA in architecture from Princeton University, and an MArch and PhD in the history of architecture and urbanism from Harvard University. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Endowment for the Humanities, GMU's Mathy Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, Whiting Foundation, and Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, among others. She has presented her work in a variety of forums, including the Society of Architectural Historians, Society for French Historical Studies, and Urban History Group.