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2009: Asylum

For the 49th post of our 50th anniversary series, we’re celebrating Christopher Payne’s Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals by looking back at review quotes and Dwell’s beautiful slideshow, which features a few of the book’s images.

“...Asylum is of enormous value, as a record of how such places looked in their final years. More than that, and despite its dismal subject matter, it makes for a remarkable and endlessly fascinating book, one that can be recommended with enthusiasm to both the architectural historian and the general reader.”
Times Literary Supplement

“The gorgeous book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals hones in on the US’s ritualistic neglect of its own state mental hospitals with Christopher Payne’s disturbing and transfixing photos taken during a tour of 70 hospitals in 30 states...Weaving a swath of texture and color through the melancholy and furious vistas of forgotten architectures, Payne fixes the depth of his aim at the retreating prints of whole human communities, directing his gaze-and ours-into the future of our past.”
Peter Moysaenko, Bomb

“…[A] compendium of images that peel away at a lost world and, in the process, offer a provocative portrait of the history of our (mis)treatment of the mentally ill.”
Maria Popova, The Atlantic

“Beautifully researched, exquisitely photographed and expertly composed and edited...Extraordinary.”

“Astoundingly beautiful work on a subject that rarely gets the attention.”
Aaron Britt, Dwell

Be sure to check out Dwell' s Asylum slideshow.

Our 50 influential journal articles are listed here. The articles are in chronological order and will be freely available through the end of 2012.

For information about the MIT Press’ history, check out our 50th anniversary page.

  • Posted at 11:09 am on Thu, 13 Dec 2012 in


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The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.