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ACLS New Faculty Fellow to Give Dickson Memorial Lecture in Art History

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Jaipur, the walled city built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II

Susan Johnson-Roehr, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) New Faculty Fellow, will give a public lecture, “Jaipur: The Spectacle of City Planning,” at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, in 112 Borland Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture will examine the founding years of Jaipur, the walled city built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II on the Dhundar plains of Rajasthan (in Western India) in the second quarter of the eighteenth century.

Scholars have attributed Jaipur’s noticeable uniformity to Jai Singh’s reliance on traditional Hindu concepts during the early stages of city planning. The city’s closed and regular plan is assumed to derive from a cosmological and spatial device, the navagraha mandala (a grid of nine squares), or an ideal plan from the vastu shastras (technical texts on art and design). Through an investigation of space and spectacle, Johnson-Roehr offers a fresh reading of Jai Singh’s city, one that questions the relevance of these texts and underlines the role of urban planning in Jaipur’s built environment.

Johnson-Roehr, assistant professor, McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia, received her Ph.D. in art from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation, “The Spatialization of Knowledge and Power at the Astronomical Observations of Sawai Jai Singh II,” explores the movement of scientific enterprise between intellectual centers of India, France, Portugal and China.

Contact: Madhuri Desai, msd13@psu.edu