Volunteer Traditions: Neoclassical Architecture and Its Racial Impact on Fraternity and Sorority Houses at the University of Tennessee

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Mosley, Keneisha Diane
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Middle Tennessee State University
Architecture is used often to iterate to the public specific ideas, usually tied to perceived societal norms of a particular culture, group of people, or to represent an idea that is meant to convey ideas that tie to specific ideologies. In the twentieth century, the adoption of Neoclassical architecture on the American landscape correlated with ideas of whiteness and elitism, and those ideas further materialized in collegiate spaces with the same adoption of this architectural style. Neoclassical architecture, along with acts of racial and ethnic discrimination, created and continues to nourish these ideas on college campuses. This thesis explores the symbolism and meaning of twentieth-century fraternity/sorority house architecture on southern college campuses using the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as a case study. Fraternity and sorority houses’ use of Neoclassical architecture perpetuates ideas of the lost cause south and white supremacy, creating a hostile physical statement to students of color. Neoclassical architecture plays an important role in one’s perception of slavery and how one understands their ancestral ties to its horrific place in history.
Classical architecture, Fraternities, Greek Revival architecture, Houses, Neoclassical architecture, Sororities, History