Reader Spotlight is a series in which we pose four questions to some of Wardah's top readers. These are their answers:
Could you introduce yourself?
I teach/have taught subjects in architectural, art, media history and theory and with it, related classical, medieval, modern and post-modern philosophies at a local Polytechnic.
What motivates you to read regularly?
As a teacher of history and theory, I need to pre-read to prepare for my classes. I have never believed in a “stable” module content, even if at the surface the curriculum seems unchanging. With each year, I feel it is my responsibility to deepen and broaden my research, so that I can convey the same to my students. Consequently, I always feel a little guilty that the previous batch lost out on some details their successors were availed.
My reading patterns are also motivated by research projects I get involved in both professionally and personally. Sometimes these overlap. My areas of interest range from Islamic sciences, philosophy, politics, current affairs, architectural theories, and histories. Some of these books drag me into footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies, connecting me to their networks.
The journey never actually ends… it just continues on.
Do you have a specific reading method?
Not all readings are the same. Some pages are mulled over and scribbled with notes while others are skimmed quickly as reference texts or because they are from the casual reading pile.
One thing I do though, is “read” about the book before reading the book. It is very important to know who the author is, her teachers, previous outputs, quality of the translator, and at times even the information by the publisher is important. I also take recommendations seriously from a network of friends and colleagues in regards to this.
Amongst all the books you've read, what are 3 titles you find yourself recommending to others all the time, and why?
This would be
- Plato’s Timaeus,
- Vitruvius’ De Architectura (On Architecture) and
- my good teacher Alberto Pérez-Gómez’s ground breaking work Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science.
Alberto taught us in McGill how to read Plato’s philosophical treatise on cosmological beginnings patiently and closely with Vitruvius’s treatise on Architecture.
In Alberto’s own work, he would go on to describe how the link between cosmological order and architecture that held together like a tight mesh was eventually ruptured with the rise of modern science in the 18th century.
These three texts have conditioned my foundational architectural thinking. I recommend these texts to colleagues and students who ask me for research advice, for the texts, in part, will help them to orientate and to re-view foundational and historical issues in order to frame questions in the present.