Fall 2012: Martin Abstract

The Corporate University: A Technical History
Reinhold Martin

This talk will sketch a partial genealogy of the “corporate university” as it emerged in the United States, by analyzing a series of architectural works from late nineteenth and early twentieth century university and college campuses. These works, which anticipate today’s conflation of the collegiate and corporate campus, belong to a larger “architecture of knowledge” that defines the modern research university as a media complex, or a set of technical infrastructures in which aesthetics, epistemology, and capital mix in an unstable compound. The examples will trace the movement of the urban and epistemological figure of the campus from the academic to the commercial setting, focusing on the research laboratory as a key element in campus design. This movement anticipates the formal integration of the two systems during the 1950s in what was eventually described as a “military-industrial-academic complex.” The talk will show that the presumed instrumentalization of academic knowledge on which all of this rests is the outcome of a much longer historical development to which analysis of material infrastructures and their imaginaries gives unique access.

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