I studied a BA in English Language and Literature at Oxford, during which time I focussed on the responses of architects and writers of the 60s to a perceived diminishment of artistic and political permissiveness. Now studying an MSt in English Literature 1900 to the Present, I hope to elucidate the economic and ideological restraints on avant-garde architects and writers in the second half of the twentieth century, and to explore how chance was utilised by practitioners in both fields to overcome such strictures.
Central to my research will be the novels and films of B.S. Johnson, who freely analogised the creative acts of writing and architectural design. Johnson’s perception that both fields were suffering from crises of innovation led to his typographical and material experiments with the novel – most famously his ‘book-in-a-box’ The Unfortunates, which was printed in unbound sections intended to be read in random order. Johnson’s implication that a stultified literary milieu and a stultified architectural scene were symptoms of a greater cultural crisis invites an exploration of other humanities to assess whether they too were affected by this phenomenon. An interdisciplinary study such as this will be aided to no end by the collaborative opportunities provided by Ertegun House.