Re-Imaging Utopia: Crises of Temporality in Robert ParkeHarrison’s The Architect’s Brother

Presenter: Steven Brown

“One of our most influential American philosophers, Stanley Cavell, titled one of his books, This New Yet Unapproachable America—and for good reason. America champions the new. Its ambition is indefatigable. But that goes without saying. What needs reconsideration is the unapproachable, i.e., the utopian idealizations on which America was founded. This agon between future and past leaves us with a crisis of temporality in regards to present possibilities of, and responsibilities between, self and place. The subject of my study then is the reconciliation of America’s opposing utopian visions. But unlike most studies of this kind which focus on the literary dichotomies inherent to American representations (nature/machine, pastoral/wilderness, local/manifest destiny), this essay analyzes the visual, specifically the photography in Robert ParkeHarrison’s book, The Architect’s Brother. ParkeHarrison’s re-imaging of the traditionally idyllic American landscape mediates those temporalities already mentioned by stressing the significance of Cavell’s “onward” imagination. The onwardness in ParkeHarrison’s photography allows us to witness new, progressive possibilities between nostalgia and futurism, memory and ambition. In that sense, ParkeHarrison’s work approaches America by re-imaging the impossible as pragmatic.”

Name of Photographer: Robert ParkeHarrison — website

Conference Date: 29 Oct-1 Nov 2009 – paper is currently unpublished in print, but requests for more information can be made by emailing Steven at:

One thought on “Re-Imaging Utopia: Crises of Temporality in Robert ParkeHarrison’s The Architect’s Brother

  1. This essay is exactly what I’m looking for to help me on my sophomore thesis. The email isn’t going through though, I would love to read it, and I would cite it and everything.

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