Northern Illinois University

School of Art

rebecca houze

Ph.D., University of Chicago

Assistant Professor, Art History
Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts

Office: Art Building 201F
Phone: (815) 753-1320

Rebecca Houze

Assistant Professor Rebecca Houze is a specialist in the history of architecture, design and the decorative arts. She received her B.A. from the University of Washington (1993) and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1994, 2000).

Her research centers on the relationship between art and industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 2004 she received a Fulbright Joint Austrian-Hungarian Research Award for her work on Central European design history.

Professor Houze has published reviews and articles in Studies in the Decorative Arts, Journal of Design History, Design Issues, Fashion Theory, Textile, and Centropa. Her most recent articles explore the exhibitions of Austrian, Hungarian and Romanian needlework at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair. She is currently at work on a book, Principles of Dress: Nationalism, Imperialism, and Modern Design in Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918.

Graduate Seminars

ARTH 601/685 Art History Seminar/Special Topics

Vienna 1900: Art and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle

Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, simmered with radical artistic and intellectual innovation at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century. While Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka painted the tormented Habsburg psyche beneath its glittering façade, Sigmund Freud and Arthur Schnitzler probed its psychological interior in clinical case studies, novels, and theater. The political and cultural milieu of “Vienna 1900” was a place in which journalists, physicists, philosophers, and physicians mingled in the coffeehouse with actors, painters, musicians, and businessmen. This class explores the astonishing pursuit of the “modern” that crossed disciplinary boundaries in ways that would be unthinkable, and perhaps impossible today.

ARTH 493 History of Architecture III: 1900 to the Present

This course explores the history of twentieth-century architecture by considering various themes that have shaped its course: industry, commerce, and entertainment; the identification of public and private spaces; the development of coherent visual languages of form; understanding the way in which communities function in urban and suburban environments; sensitivity to issues of race, class, gender, and ecology; and the role of built structures in preserving cultural memory. Rather than follow a comprehensive survey of buildings, we examine a number of case studies in conjunction with influential texts written by architects and architectural critics over the past one hundred years.

ARTH 496A History of the Decorative Arts: Furniture

Decoration” is one of the most contested terms in the history of modern art. Bitterly disparaged by modern architects such as Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier, the concept of decorative art was at the center of debates surrounding the development of design in the early twentieth-century. This course investigates the historical relationship of art to industry by looking at examples of material culture—fashions, furnishings, and utensils of daily living— from the eighteenth-century to the present. What can the style of a shoe, spoon, or chair tell us about gender, commerce, or national identity? By examining numerous primary and secondary sources, and looking at a few important cases, we will begin to understand the place of “decoration” in modern and contemporary theories of design.

ARTH 381/603 History of Visual Communication

This course examines topics in the history of graphic design from the Industrial Revolution to the present, including the emergence of modernism in design and its relationship to popular culture through such venues as advertising, propaganda and fashion magazines in the early twentieth centuries, the influence of linguistic theory on the discipline of Visual Communication, and the shift from modernism to postmodernism at the end of the twentieth century. Throughout the course we examine the recurrent themes of new technology, innovation, and social responsibility, in texts written by nineteenth and twentieth-century designers as well as contemporary design critics.