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Professor Etlin taught architectural history at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation from 1981 until his retirement in 2012. He is currently the general editor of the Cambridge World History of Religious Architecture, a multi-volume reference work that will be published by Cambridge University Press. Professor Etlin is currently engaged in research on the architecture of Philibert de L'Orme, as well as the history of structural forms, with a focus on stereotomy.
Professor Etlin is the author of The Architecture of Death: The Transformation of the Cemetery in Eighteenth-Century Paris (MIT Press, 1984), Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier: The Romantic Legacy (Manchester University Press, 1994), and In Defense of Humanism: Value in the Arts and Letters (Cambridge University Press, 1996), as well as two other award-winning books. He received three accolades for his 1991 book Modernism in Italian Architecture, 1890-1940 (MIT Press): the 1991 Best New Book in Architecture and Planning Award from the American Association of Publishers, the 1992 Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award awarded by the Society of Architectural Historians for the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture published by a North American scholar, and an American Institute of Architecture (AIA) International Architecture Book Award. Professor Etlin's Symbolic Space: French Enlightenment Architecture and Its Legacy (University of Chicago Press, 1994) also garnered an International Architecture Book Award from the AIA. Between 1994-2006, he served as the founding series editor of "Modern Architecture and Cultural Identity" with Cambridge University Press. He was the editor of Art, Culture, and Media under the Third Reich (University of Chicago Press, 2002). In 1998, he became the founding director of the Restoring Ancient Stabiae project and from 2001 until his resignation in May 2003, he served as the university's representative to the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation. His fellowships include a Guggenheim Fellowship, American Academy in Rome, Fulbright Fellowships for France and Italy, Paul Mellon Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Fellowship in Landscape Architecture at Dumbarton Oaks-Harvard University.