Call for Papers: 2012 SAH Conference in Detroit

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 7, 2011

From the SAH website:

Society of Architectural Historians 2012 Conference
Detroit, 18-22 April 2012

Proposals due by 1 June 2011

The 2012 Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting is now accepting abstracts for 30 paper sessions. To read paper session descriptions and to submit abstracts, click here. . . .  This year we are introducing an on-line system for the submission of abstracts, which will help us streamline the logistics involved in expanding the number of sessions we plan to offer this year and in the future. . . .

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Buildings and Objects: Baroque, Rococo, and Beyond

17th- and 18th-century architecture and decorative arts shared a common materiality, a basis in natural matter transformed through human ingenuity into self-conscious artifice. Immobile and spatial, that artifice could be architectural. Or, as portable and discrete, it could take the form of an object. Modern disciplinary divisions have tended to separate environmental and material cultures into distinct spheres of inquiry. The perils in this approach for modern architecture are well understood; the pitfalls in uncoupling objects and spaces in studies of 17th- and 18th-century buildings remain less well explored. Art historians have demonstrated that painting, sculpture, and interiors of the period were often informed by the production of ornamental objects. How, in turn, might attention to object design impact our understandings of architecture? Some 18th-century artists familiar today as creators of decorative objects, such as Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, considered themselves architects and drew no strong boundary between designing things and designing buildings. Similarly, the crafting of ornament and furniture was integral to the practice of architects from Gianlorenzo Bernini to Filippo Juvarra or Robert Adam.

This panel seeks to reunite the study of 17th- and 18th-century European architecture and objects. How did architecture structure or negotiate human interactions with things? Were the period’s many newly formulated categories of luxury goods understood in specific relationships with spaces? What were the terms by which spatiality and materiality came to be understood as discrete? Topics might include the design of commercial spaces and the commodities for sale within them; practices of display in the noble salon or in purpose-built galleries and collectors’ cabinets; liturgical objects and devotional spaces; and the decoration of domestic or ceremonial interiors. Cross-disciplinary approaches to these arenas are encouraged, and papers that draw from or challenge the methodologies of architectural history, art history, and material culture studies are particularly welcome. Session chair: Kristel Smentek, Class of 1958 Career Development Professor, Department of Architecture, MIT; 617-253-5133 smentek@mit.edu.

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City Air

In his 2004 lecture “Building Breathing Space,” cultural historian Steven Connor called on architects to reconsider the relationship between built form and air, eschewing their respective autonomy, recognizing instead their complicity. He suggested we think of buildings as the articulation of air, of air as the animator of buildings.

This session examines Connor’s request at the urban scale, asking how air fashions and is fashioned by the city. If for Classical writers on city-building, air was a cosmic version of the continuum of the humors, valued for its heterogeneity and transformative properties, by the 19th century it was part of a medicalized physiology of the city; a potential harbourer of germs, it was corrupt if constrained, but purifying if in motion, and ultimately available for capture, conditioning and mechanical circulation.  Air urbanists of the 1960s, from Archigram to Buckminster Fuller, showed a propensity towards the control of air, whether as a social and political act or as an attempt to use it as an explicit building material.

To control air’s forces means to envisage detachment from them. Gaston Bachelard insists that only by recognizing air’s variability can we conceive of rising through and beyond it. Only by acknowledging its specific material qualities can it be endowed with clarifying possibilities. When we homogenize and tame it, we deny air its generative abundance; in Luce Irigaray’s terms, we neglect the spreading, nourishing infinitude that makes it our ultimate dwelling.

This session calls for papers that explore air’s involvement in the city:  the representation of air, the nature of air, and the attempted systematization and domestication of air in its relationship with the city. We seek investigations into the role of air both as an element essential to city life and as a component of the material imagination–explorations into what air means, as well as what it does for the city. Session chairs: Amy Catania Kulper, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Michigan; (323) 804-5434;akulper@umich.edu; and Diana Periton, Senior Lecturer, Leicester School of Architecture, De Montfort University; dp_cs@mac.com.

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Drawing in the Design Professions, 1500 to 1900

A recent SAH session elicited papers on the role of drawing from antiquity to the early modern period in the design of both landscape and architecture. These papers suggested the value of further investigation into drawing from the early modern period forward, especially how designers used drawing to represent ideas and the role drawing played in creating the modern design professions. Beginning in the 15th century, we can trace the use of drawing as a means to communicate ideas for an emerging architectural project. By the late 19th century educational programs with drawing at the core were established—a key step in establishing the professional status of these fields. This session calls for papers addressing the broad role of drawing in the emergence of the design professions between 1500 and 1900. How did drawing gain its primacy as a representational tool and what relationship did it have to the emerging definition of the design professions?  How have architects and landscape architects used drawing differently in response to distinct needs and visions? How did new drawing techniques (perspective, axonometric, for example) influence actual design? And how did the mastery of such techniques shape the design professions?  How does carefully looking at the drawings alter the narratives of the histories of these design professions? We invite papers that explore a wide range of approaches, from those addressing broader themes to those that consider individual projects or designers. Drawing has become the primary means by which architects and landscape architects think, create, and communicate. Thus, a more careful analysis of drawing and its own history may lead to a better understanding of these disciplines and practices. Session chairs:  Thaisa Way, Associate Professor, College of Built Environments, University of Washington; tway@uw.edu; and Ann Huppert, Assistant Professor, College of Built Environments, University of Washington; ahuppert@uw.edu.

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Landscape Architecture and Economics

As commissioned projects—and even if self-generated—all landscape architecture reflects the workings and influence of one or more economic systems. Whether propelled or limited by the resources of the client, by the intended use of the landscape, or the financial status of those who will use it, designed landscapes are rooted inherently in finance, overtly or covertly. This session welcomes submissions that investigate the subject of the designed landscape and economics from a variety of perspectives, from all periods in history, and from all cultures. However, primary emphasis should be placed on designed landscapes rather than cultural landscapes or planning projects.

Subjects might include: What was the role of forest production in the making of the English landscape garden or in other garden traditions? How did labor figure in the making of landmark gardens, parks, and suburbs? How have particular designed landscapes served colonial industries or in the making of company towns? How were/are landscape architects’ offices organized and what is the effect of that structure on the making of designed landscape? How does “branded” landscape architecture achieve an identity? How have superannuated industrial processes and their landscapes influenced the course of their redevelopment as landscapes for leisure? How have parks and gardens been cast as tourist destinations in and of themselves, either as ephemeral garden shows or expositions, or on a more permanent basis? Of course, these are only a few suggestions to illustrate the range of potential topics.

Session chairs: Sonja Duempelmann, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland; 301-405-5491; sduempel@umd.edu; and Marc Treib, Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley; 510-849-1839, mtreib@socrates.berkeley.edu.

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Remembering George A. Kubler

This session pays tribute to renowned architectural historian George A. Kubler, on occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Through a distinguished career as scholar, educator and prolific writer, Kubler helped shape the discipline in many important ways. His vast areas of expertise included theory and history of art and architecture, predominantly focused on the art and architecture of ancient America and of Spain, Portugal and their American dominions from 1500 to1800. Among his mentors were the pre-eminent scholars Walter Cook, Karl Lehmann, Erwin Panofsky, and Herbert Spinden; but his lieber meister was the great French humanist Henri Focillon, under whose direction he wrote his masterful dissertation of 1940 on The Religious Architecture of New Mexico in the Colonial Period and Since the American Occupation, a model of morphological analysis and interpretation. His best known book and the most influential, however, remains The Shape of Time of 1962, where he sought to advance the history of art and architecture by proposing new methodological approaches that neither privileged meaning over form nor form over meaning. By making explicit meaningful philosophical links with other disciplines, Kubler showed the way to new theoretical models, including interdisciplinary and cultural studies. Some of his favorite themes were: the interaction of local and alien traditions, the relation of frugality to expression, the pluralism of “style” at any time and place, and the permanence of efficient forms—all of which merit reconsideration in the present post-structuralist era. Preference will be given to paper proposals that address any of Kubler’s areas of expertise and which apply his research methods. Submissions from different disciplines and interdisciplinary studies are particularly welcome. Session chair: Humberto Rodríguez-Camilloni, Professor of Architecture, Virginia Tech; 540- 231-5324 (voice); 540-231-9938 (fax); hcami@vt.edu.

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Rethinking Architecture in the Age of Printing

Inspired by the writings of Jean-Louis Viel de Saint-Maux, Victor Hugo in Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) famously stated: “[t]he book will kill the edifice.” Frank Lloyd Wright similarly viewed the effect of printing on architecture in a negative light, while Siegfried Gideon characterized the Renaissance printed treatise as a false start which would be superseded by the “true mechanical reproduction” of the industrial era.  In a reversal of this trend, Mario Carpo in his Architettura nell’Età della Stampa (1998) cast what Wright had called the “imitative realism” of the Renaissance in a positive light, characterizing “architecture in the age of printing” as the first truly image-based architectural culture, in contrast to the medieval period’s reliance upon oral transmission and “non-visual” imitation.

Despite these differing interpretations, what unites all of these views is the idea that mechanical reproduction fundamentally transformed architecture.  With this session, we propose to ask: how truly revolutionary was printing to both the practice and production of architecture? This session seeks papers which challenge assumptions about the mechanical nature of printing, its ability to dominate all aspects of cultural production, and its marginalization of other representational media in regards to architecture.  We invite papers relating to any period or region, especially those which consider questions such as: What is the mode by which printed images were translated into built form; conversely, how did the transmission of architecture through print condition its reception? Did printing in fact enable the codification and perpetuation of the architectural orders?  To what extent did printing create stable, authoritatively identical reproductions that removed the creative drift associated with hand-made drawings?  How did printed images interface with other media? Can any technology of representation define the architectural production of an entire period? Session chairs: Kathryn Blair Moore, [Institute of Fine Arts, New York University];kathryn.b.moore@gmail.com; and Michael J. Waters, [Institute of Fine Arts, New York University]; michael.waters1@gmail.com.

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Open Sessions

Potential speakers whose choose not to submit an abstract to one of the thematic sessions above may opt instead to submit an abstract to an Open Session.  There will be five Open Sessions in Detroit, the papers for which will be selected by the five Open Session chairs:

  • Charles Burroughs, Elsie B. Smith Professor of Liberal Arts, Department of Classics, Case Western Reserve University; 216-368-6095;charles.burroughs@case.edu
  • Meredith Clausen, Professor, School of Art, Division of Art History, College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington; 206-616-6751; mlc@u.washington.edu
  • Will Glover, Associate Professor, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan; 734-936-0203;wglover@umich.edu
  • Katherine Fischer Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Chicago; 773-702-0255; k-taylor@uchicago.edu
  • Richard Cleary, Professor, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin; 512-471-6165; cleary@mail.utexas.edu

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