Monday, October 6, 2014

"The Language of Houses" with author Alison Lurie - Mon. 10/20

Buildings have a story to tell us if we know how to listen, says Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author of THE LANGUAGE OF HOUSES: How Buildings Speak to Us (Delphinium Books; August 19, 2014).

Lurie, the 2012-2014 New York State Author, will discuss her latest book at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue at Dove Street, on Monday, October 20. The evening will begin with a meet-the-author reception at 6:00 p.m., and a discussion of the book at 7:00 p.m. followed by a book signing. After the presentation, attendees are invited to stay for dinner, with cash or credit cards accepted.

The event is open to the public and presented by the University Club Foundation with the Preservation League of New York State; Historic Albany Foundation; and the Society of Architectural Historians, Turpin Bannister Chapter. Admission to the reception and presentation, which includes light fare and cash bar, is $20 for the general public, $15 for members of the presenting organizations. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at 518-463-1151 or reserve online with a credit card.

In her entertaining and fascinating exploration of the secret language of architecture, Alison Lurie acts as interpreter and at times biographer for the structures all around us. She explains why your house is as shameless as a tabloid, revealing all about the family living within it. We also learn what the public buildings that surround our lives say—and sometimes shout—about what goes on inside them and the human beings they are meant to serve.

While there are many books on architecture and shelter design, THE LANGUAGE OF HOUSES goes beneath the surface to explore the psychological, social and emotional meanings of homes, schools, churches, government buildings, museums, prisons, hospitals, restaurants and so much more. Lurie explains why museums by their design announce whether we’ve entered a classical temple, a palace of learning or a science laboratory. She shows how hospitals, prisons and retirement communities are designed to isolate their inhabitants from daily life, and explores how our shopping environments scream, “SAVE!” when they mean “SPEND!”

In 1981 Lurie’s The Language of Clothes investigated costume and fashion as an expression of history, social status, and individual psychology.  Amusing, enlightening, and full of literary allusion, the book was highly praised and widely anthologized.  THE LANGUAGE OF HOUSES continues in the same vein, enlightening us about the structures we’ve built and how they both reflect and affect us.

Alison Lurie is the author of 10 novels, including Foreign Affairs (Pulitzer Prize, 1985) and The Truth About Lorin Jones (Prix Femina Etranger, 1989). Her most recent novel, Truth and Consequences, appeared in 2005. She has received numerous honors including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation grants, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction, and a D. Litt. from Oxford University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Lurie has taught literature, folklore, humor, and writing at Cornell University since 1969 and is now the Frederic J. Whiton Professor of American Literature emerita.

This event is presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc., formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901. One need not be a member of the University Club to attend. Support for educational programming presented by the University Club Foundation is provided by AT&T.

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