Advanced Humanities Research Profile
Unyimeabasi Udoh '13: Le Corbusier
For the past year, I've spent much of my time with Le Corbusier. Even though the architect died some forty years before I was born, Berkshire's Advanced Humanities Research
(AHR) program has helped me to understand both his work and his mind.
Coming from a family of academics, I'd thought I knew what to expect when it came to extensive research. I foresaw tedium and an intimate association with MLA formatting in my near future, and I was somewhat less than thrilled at the prospect of undergoing the pain myself. After all, I'd seen my father spend hours detailing the finer points of varying translations of the word "lord" and been on a fair number of futile library expeditions in search of an ancient, obscure manuscript. For a long time, research was equated in my mind with torture.
That all changed the first day of the then-brand new AHR class. With Mr. Clary, I wasn't just collecting data -- I was learning how to think, analyze, and learn. Suddenly I could interpret interpretations and apply multiple theoretical and critical outlooks to the same point. As I tell every under-former who asks me about the course, I feel like I'm learning everything about everything. I dreaded the time when I would have to choose my research focus, not because of the increased workload, but because I wouldn't be able to study all of my new favorite things simultaneously.
It was hard for me to settle on one topic. I knew that I loved architecture, but studying buildings felt too literal. I wanted to know about the people behind the spaces that surround us, finding it fascinating that we live in concrete poetry and large-scale art. On a purely aesthetic whim I chose Modernism, and narrowed my focus to Le Corbusier because of the prolificness and significance of his work and the complexity of his personality. Since beginning my research, I've corresponded with experts in the field and gained their advice on the further direction of my project. I see connections that, before, I wouldn't have known could exist at all. AHR has expanded my mind in more ways than I could have imagined.
Now, I see research as less of a labyrinth and more of a kaleidoscope made of evidence and opinion. I look forward to each new phase in my quest, knowing that the more I know the more I'll want to learn; I'm excited to see where my work will take me and thrilled that I was offered this amazing opportunity--before I had to sit down and write my doctoral thesis.