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Dr Barbara Penner
Wates House, Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
  • Senior Lecturer
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Barbara Penner is Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She is author of Newlyweds on Tour: Honeymooning in Nineteenth-Century America (University of New Hampshire Press/University Press of New England, 2009) and co-editor of Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (Temple University Press, 2009) and Gender Space Architecture (Routledge, 2000). She has most recently contributed essays to Toilet: The Politics of Sharing (NYU Press, 2010), Handbook of Interior Design (Berg, forthcoming) and Globalization in Practice (OUP, forthcoming). She is presently completing Bathroom, a cultural history of the bathroom (Reaktion, forthcoming).

In recent years, Barbara has been invited to give lectures in institutions across the UK, Japan, and North America, including at Aoyama Gakuin University, Cornell University, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. She serves as a member of the editorial boards of The Journal of Architecture (2011-) and Interiors: Architecture, Design, Culture (2009-) and as a contributing editor to Places (www.places.designobserver.com/). With Charles Rice, she served as Books Reviews Editor for The Journal of Architecture (2006-2011). She is a Board Member of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

Research Summary

Barbara Penner's research covers a wide range of subjects: nineteenth-century commercial architecture (hotels and department stores); twentieth-century tourist destinations (honeymoon resorts); the domestic interior; urban infrastructure; and public conveniences. Her primary research question is how such seemingly everyday spaces and commercial building types enable the formation of particular social and cultural identities and can promote social inclusion or its opposite. Her work is consistently informed by an interest in feminism. It is also interdisciplinary in nature, typically drawing on work from anthropology, literary theory, history and cultural studies. Her experiences in the field have also led her to write explicitly about the impact of interdisciplinary studies on the disciplinary limits of architectural history.

Barbara is author of Newlyweds on Tour: Honeymooning in Nineteenth-Century America (University of New Hampshire Press/University Press of New England, 2009). She has also co-edited, with Olga Gershenson, Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (Temple University Press, 2009), and with Jane Rendell and Iain Borden, Gender, Space, Architecture (Routledge, 2000).  She has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications such as Winterthur Portfolio and The Journal of Architecture, edited collections such as Architecture and Tourism (Berg, 2004) and Negotiating Domesticity (Routledge, 2005) and journals such as Architectural Review, Cabinet and Places. She also enjoys an ongoing collaboration with Charles Rice (School of Art, Design, and Architecture, Kingston University). They have co-authored articles about the domestic interior and its representations, most recently in The Edwardian Sense: Art in Britain, 1901-1910 (Yale University Press, 2010).

Barbara's current project is a cultural history of bathrooms, under contract to Reaktion as part of their Objekt series (forthcoming, 2012). One of its main objects is to trace the rise and global spread of the Anglo-American bathroom. It considers how the Anglo-American model of water-borne sanitation, as well as its sanitary wares, have been successfully exported, leading to a global preference for Western-style bathrooms even in situations where it is not economically or ecologically viable or even culturally appropriate. With the assistance of a UCL Global Health Grant, her research has most recently taken her to South Africa, to consider the roll out of dry sanitation technologies and to explore the social and cultural resistance to alternate forms of provision.

Barbara has been an invited participant in several research groups, including Edwardian Opulence, Yale Centre for British Art (supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation), Writing Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art (supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation), and Sensing Cities: Tokyo – London, Aoyama Gakuin University, UCL Bartlett, and UAL TrAIN (supported by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation).

Teaching Summary

In her teaching, Barbara Penner aims to expand students' understanding of the social, cultural and material context of the built environment's production. Since 1997, she has taught a range of modules that have served undergraduate (Years 2 and 3) and postgraduate students (Masters and PhD). It is primarily through this work, that she has brought her own research interests to bear, running courses on subjects as varied as Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, detective fiction as an urban genre, domestic design and identity, and the ‘expanded field’ of architecture in the 1960s. Since 2005, she has also co-taught the Masters module, Representation of Cities with Iain Borden and Ben Campkin, and has twice coordinated the Masters module Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Architecture, taught mainly through site visits in London.

Since 2003, Barbara has been the Director of BSc (Hons) Architectural Studies, a multi-disciplinary programme to provide students with an alternative to the BSc Architecture. The course has proved to be very successful and its graduates have gone on to further studies and/or careers in law, management, journalism, architectural history and the fine arts. Barbara is also the Director of the PhD Architectural History and Theory, as well as being the first supervisor to six PhD students who are researching topics from nineteenth-century convents to 1960s photographers. She has examined  MPhil and PhD dissertations at institutions including Birkbeck College, Kingston University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Swansea Metropolitan University and UCL.

She welcomes inquiries from potential graduate students, particularly  those interested in gender, sexuality, domesticity, consumerism, tourism, design history, interior culture, and infrastructure.

2000 Teaching and Learning Coordinator   UCL, United Kingdom
2000 M.Phil/Ph.D supervisor   UCL, United Kingdom
2000 M.A. Architectural History Tutor   UCL, United Kingdom
2000 B.Sc. Architectural Studies Course Director   UCL, United Kingdom
2000 Ph.D. Architectural History & Theory Director   UCL, United Kingdom
2000 Senior Lecturer Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
1999 – 2000 Visiting Lecturer Visual Culture and Media Dept Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom
1999 Senior Lecturer School of Architecture University of East London, United Kingdom
SEP-1998 – MAR-1999 Lecturer Design and Public Art Chelsea College of Art and Design, United Kingdom
SEP-1997 – JAN-1999 Lecturer Dept. of Art History Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton, United Kingdom
JAN-1997 – JUN-1997 Lecturer Dept. of Architecture South Bank University, London, United Kingdom
OCT-1996 – AUG-1997 Administrative Assistant Chairman’s Office The Architectural Association (AA), London, United Kingdom
JUN-1994 – AUG-1995 Editorial Assistant   Dr. Clifford Scott, United Kingdom
OCT-1993 – AUG-1995 Guide (Guide Animateur)   Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal, Canada
Academic Background
2003 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Humanities Birkbeck College
1996 MSc Master of Science – Architectural History University College London
1994 BA Bachelor of Arts – English Literature and History of Art McGill University
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