From dedicatory inscriptions on Greek architectural monuments to the three-dimensional lettering affixed to the façade of the Bauhaus, the neon signs of Las Vegas, and the unofficial marks left by cans of spray paint, words on buildings can both overcome and augment the limits of architecture’s ability to communicate to a broad public. Scholars working in a variety of contexts have begun to explore the ways in which text informs historical interpretations and understanding of buildings and urban spaces but typically position their analysis within the confines of relatively narrow historical and disciplinary boundaries. This session seeks to build on that body of work by exploring the relationship between architecture and its inscriptions in a variety of political, geographical, and historical contexts.
We especially welcome papers that explore the following questions: How does epigraphy influence a building’s form and composition? What is its role within discourses of power, democratic, or totalitarian? Does it simply ‘fill the gap’ between intention and reception in architecture’s quest to convey meaning? What can faded, deleted, re-contextualised or overwritten inscriptions tell us of a building’s pasts, its successive uses and shifting meanings? How can it control memory as a self- conscious effort to harness the past? How did the interplay of text/abstraction vs. representation/ornament shape avant-garde modernist discourse and practice? How is its use and form related to larger cultural shifts? Can branding, advertising and public screens be considered contemporary forms of this ancient practice? And if so, how do they operate?
Session Chairs: Flavia Marcello, Swinburne University of Technology, and Lucy Maulsby, Northeastern University
Deadline: June 6, 2016 at 5 pm CDT