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The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States (Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture) 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0816649402
ISBN-10: 0816649405
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  • The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States (Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carla Yanni is an assistant professor of art history at Rutgers University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (April 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816649405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816649402
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. M. Burns on July 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Carla Yanni's history of mental assylums in the United States is well-written and full of great information on the subject. The text is academic enough to effectively tie architecture, history, and psychological theory together neatly without becoming cumbersome. The book also contains excellent illustrations and photographs which really help bring the subject to life.

My only complaint with the book is that it left me wanting more. I would like to have seen more interior photographs on some of the surviving buildings as they are today (like those you can find at [...]). I also wish the author had devoted a little space to Danvers State Hospital, the fascinating building best known from the film "Session 9." There were also a number of cases where the floor plans for various buildings either lacked the key that explained what each room was, or where the key was effectively too small to read.

That said, I found this book to be a very good source of detailed information about the history and philosophy of assylums in the US.
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Format: Paperback
I thought this item was going to be a book primarily concentrating on the architectural study of these buildings. Given the title of the book, one is being led to believe that this would be so. Therefore it was very surprising, and disappointing, to see no colour photographs at all included, and even more surprising and disappointing to find no mention of, or pictures featuring the Danvers State Mental Hospital, which was one of the most impressive and classic examples of Kirkbride's vision. Also, some of the plans shown, do not seem to have precise information and so did not seem complete.
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Format: Paperback
The Architecture of Madness is a thoughtful, important, and visually stunning book, which, for the first time, studies the relations between architecture and theories of treating the insane in public institutions in nineteenth-century America. The author is an architecture historian who is interested in relations among architecture, science, and social and cultural history and whose wide-ranging intellect is drawn to topics that open up the importance of architecture within the intellectual culture of early modernity. Like her previous book, Nature's Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display, this new volume is beautifully produced with text and accompanying drawings, graphics, and photography arranged on spacious, larger-than-usual pages which are inviting to the eye and also inviting to be read. Moreover, what characterizes this book, as it characterized Nature's Museums, is the author's clear, exact, highly readable prose. Yanni is a first-rate scholar and writes precisely, but she wears her learning lightly, eschews scholarly jargon. The extensive bibliography and notes are there, at the back, but this is a book designed to interest general reader and scholar alike--anyone who wants to know more about the movement for moral treatment of the mentally ill and the effect on institutional care of early ideas of environmental determinism. Her care and humility as a scholar are evident in what she perceives as the "respectful distance" her subject required: "if I have not performed feats of scholarly acrobatics, that is intentional, and, I believe, appropriate, for this is a book about places that witnessed a great deal of suffering.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gotta be read. Verbal review just can't do the subject justice. It's got to be picture too --
so a reader should go online and search "Historic mental institutions" etc. etc .
There once was a "kingdom of confinement" that was big, big business. The population
was that much smaller . . . yet there were that many committed to fill the nation-wide
"asylum-chain" extent of institutionalization!?!?!?!?
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Format: Paperback
Fascinating look at a not oft visited piece of history. Architecture and mental health are not my areas of study, rather I read this as research for a writing project. I could not put it down, marked numerous highlights, and read-out-loud several passages to my husband. I look forward to more reading on this topic and more from Ms. Yanni. Of note, I bought this in Kindle but added the paper edition to my library: it's that good.
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Format: Paperback
Very informative, nice printing, great images. This chronicles the American digestion of the European asylum establishment. Using asylum and hospital architecture as a cursor, it very clearly translates the American attitude toward the stigmatism of mental illness in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It primarily focuses on the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, where the concept began in America. Excellent read for anyone curious in the mysterious culture of old American asylums.
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Format: Paperback
Carla Yanni's book will be the classic text on
19th century insane asylums. She has done
a masterful job of blending meticulous research
and superb analysis with well crafted writing.
Yanni, who is well versed in the history of architecture
and the history of science, tells a compelling,
accessible story.
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