Session at Renaissance Society of America (RSA) 2019 Conference, Toronto

Walls have been an omnipresent feature of human settlements since ancient times. Even today they continue to be apart of our daily life and discourse, whether for politically driven purposes (i.e. US border “security”) or satyr (i.e. the now defunk website, Bricking it for Canada). Whether ancient or contemporary, walls have contributed to defining and redefining spaces, creating a sense of place and identity, demarcating physical boundaries, and imposing socio-economic hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion. In the context of early modern cities, walls experienced a resurgence as a consequence, among others, of expanding empires and colonizing efforts, the development of warfare technology and new systems of fortification, and the implementation of directives regarding the distribution and use of urban space. Whether materialized or not (historian Richard Kagan has examined their pointed absence in inland colonial Spanish America), walls were a common occurrence in the schemes of early modern urban theorists and planners, and a frequent instrument of discussion in the political and socio-economic plans of absolute regimes, particularly in foreign dominions. For better or worse, walls have maintained their relevance. Framed by contemporary understandings of walls, this session aims to examine the relationship between cities and walls during the early modern era from a global comparative perspective. Papers that interrogate this interplay in any of its manifestations (conceptualization and building, notions of agency and perception associated with these infrastructures, the dichotomy inside/outside, narrative and graphic representation, and materiality) during the period 1300-1700 are particularly welcome to this comparative panel. 

Please send paper titles (15-word max.); abstracts (150-word max.); brief CVs; PhD competition date (past or expected); full name, current affiliation, and e-mail address to organizers (Cody Barteet, cbarteet@uwo.ca; and Luis Gordo-Peláez, luisgordopelaez@csufresno.edu) by August 8, 2018. Submission guidelines are available at https://www.rsa.org/page/2019SubmissionsGuide .

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