The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 73rd Annual International Conference in Seattle, Washington, April 29–May 3. Please submit an abstract no later than 11:59 p.m. CDT on June 5, 2019, to one of the 33 thematic sessions, the Graduate Student Lightning Talks or the Open Sessions. SAH encourages submissions from architectural, landscape, and urban historians; museum curators; preservationists; independent scholars; architects; scholars in related fields; and members of SAH chapters and partner organizations.

Thematic sessions and Graduate Student Lightning Talks are listed below. The thematic sessions have been selected to cover topics across all time periods and architectural styles. If your research topic is not a good fit for one of the thematic sessions, please submit your abstract to the Open Sessions; two Open Sessions are available for those whose research topic does not match any of the thematic sessions. Please note that those submitting papers for the Graduate Student Lightning Talks must be graduate students at the time the talk is being delivered (April 29–May 3, 2020). Instructions and deadlines for submitting to thematic sessions and Open Sessions are the same.

Architects on Stage: Alternative Sites of Discursive Formation

This session looks at the medium of lectures, talks, and speeches as an alternative site of discursive formation that challenges the primacy of buildings, publications, and exhibitions. As cases, “Course of Architecture” by Blondel (Paris, 1771–7), “Précis of the Lectures on Architecture” by Durand (Paris, 1802–5), “Lectures on Architecture” by Viollet-le-Duc (Paris, 1863–72), “On Architectural Style” by Semper (Zurich, 1869), “Ornament and Crime” by Loos (Vienna, 1910), “The Seven Crutches of Modern Architecture” by Johnson (Cambridge, 1954), “Silence and Light” by Kahn (Zurich, 1969), “Thirteen Propositions of Post-Modern Architecture” by Jencks (Los Angeles, 1996), and “Atmospheres” by Zumthor (Lippe, 2003) are worth mentioning. Le Corbusier disseminated his views via lectures throughout Europe, whereas Metabolism was initiated at the 1960 World Design Conference, declaring “Metabolism 1960: Proposals for a New Urbanism” (Tokyo). With regard to power relations, most of these canonical lectures operated around formal institutions, whereas the early-twentieth-century avant-garde groups utilized public spaces, like urban squares and theater stages, and redefined them as a medium of immediate and spontaneous exchange. For example, “Futurist Speech to the Venetians” (Venice, 1910) and speeches at the Dada Soirée (Zurich, 1919) embodied rhetoric as a tool to activate the public and propagate.

The aim of this session is to explore rhetoric by mapping out its actors, events, and territories. Questions include but are not limited to: How does rhetoric render architecture visible in the public sphere as an ephemeral, experimental, improvisational, and discursive event? By positioning the architect-subject in the public eye as the object of theory, can the power of language become an agency to place oneself in disciplinary spotlight? Within a diverse geographic and chronological context, papers will critically explore shifts, thresholds, and limits of producing, structuring, promoting, and circulating architectural knowledge through rhetoric, while reflecting its cultural, social, and political aspects.

Session Chair: Deniz Balik Lokce, Dokuz Eylul University

Architectural History Education Now

In 2020, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) will present 152 architecture programs with new guidelines for how they should teach their students architectural history. Last revised in 2014, the NAAB "Student Performance Criteria" (SPC) for architectural history have become increasingly vague. Under the heading “History and Global Culture,” history faculty have been asked to develop in their students "Understanding of the parallel and divergent histories of architecture and the cultural norms of a variety of indigenous, vernacular, local, and regional settings in terms of their political, economic, social, ecological, and technological factors" (SPC A7). While partly motivated by a desire to expand beyond the Western canon of architectural history, this latest step away from a more defined and focused pedagogy has resulted in faculty being effectively charged with teaching all of architectural history, in all times, in all places, through all lenses—a task challenging the training of many historians and one that may be leading to an abandonment of the discipline as well as traditions of teaching architectural history. Since architecture schools cannot hire enough faculty or create enough courses in their compressed curricula to realistically address such an expansive charge, it seems that almost any coursework in architectural history, or “global culture,” would suffice.

At this time, it is unclear how the 2020 conditions for accreditation will change, if at all. However, this single sentence shapes what students will be taught, who will be hired at schools of architecture, and, in a substantial way, the future of architectural history. Papers selected for this session will review the history of teaching architectural history in architecture programs, present case studies in teaching architectural history today, speculate on architectural history's future, and prompt architectural historians to begin shaping the curricular guidelines to come, six years hence, in 2026. 

Session Chair: Peter L. Laurence, Clemson University

Architecture and Design of the Pacific Rim

The Pacific Rim’s built environment has long shared environmental, cultural, political, and economic ties among its countries and regions bordering the Pacific Ocean. Early expressions of such an oceanic conception can be found in Seattle in the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition. This was followed by one of the first comprehensive considerations of the Pacific Rim theme at the 1925 American Historical Association annual meeting. Following this trajectory, this panel examines Pacific Rim architecture and design through varied topics ranging from travel, work, and inspirations of architects/designers between the Pacific Northwest/North American West Coast to Asia, Australia, and South America. Papers covering any period of time may examine issues including the translation of architectural ideas/cultures between geographic contexts/climates, the flow of building materials/techniques, and shared concerns for seismic stability/safety for building on the Ring of Fire.  

Session Chair: Ken Tadashi OshimaUniversity of Washington

Architecture and Mediation in Medieval Mediterranean Port Cities 

Port cities in the Mediterranean basin have long been considered complex sites of artistic mobility and exchange during the medieval period. Archival treasures such as the Datini Collection and Cairo Geniza, for example, trace the movement of goods and people across the Mediterranean destined for the churches and private homes of waterfront cities. This session shifts focus to consider port cities themselves as natural and/or engineered environments that create the spatial, social, cultural, and economic conditions for artistic production and transformation.

With these considerations in mind, we invite papers that study the manifold and critical interventions imposed on medieval seafronts, ranging from the military defenses that protect seafront and urban infrastructure to the architecture and structural embellishments that make unique these littoral and liminal zones of exchange. Research questions from the fields of art and architectural history, archeology, urban planning, and material culture may include but are not limited to: In what ways does the built environment respond to, transform, or thematize the natural or constructed setting of the port city? How does the port city bring into play tensions between openness and closure, receptivity and defense, separation and incorporation, continuity and change? What unique features of port cities drive artistic, social, and economic dynamics and vice versa? How does port infrastructure organize, direct, or block the flow of goods and people and how do merchants, patrons, and artists respond to and navigate these conditions? 

While we welcome papers on port cities throughout the medieval Mediterranean, we encourage contributions that focus on southern Italy and the islands, or that explore connections between Italian port cities with centers in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. 

Session Co-Chairs: Sarah Kozlowski, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, and Kristen Streahle, Independent Scholar

Architecture and Poetry

From the birth of literacy in the fourth millennium BC to the contemporary moment, and across the globe, buildings have stimulated poetic responses, often read aloud at dedication ceremonies or other ritualized events.

While ekphrasis in particular has been studied extensively over the last two decades, and there are many case studies of poetry about buildings occasioned by specific events, this session aims at a more general understanding of the potential relationship between architecture and poetry across time and geographies. We invite contributions on poetry that treat the practice of architecture in general, or real or fictional buildings in particular. We seek to understand how descriptive and allusive poetry attempts to match the construct of verse to the construction of architecture, whether that be imagery or syntax. We are interested in poetry that theorizes architecture, to gauge how buildings express practices or ideas, whether or not they align with their builders’ intentions, and the difference between poetry and prose as languages of the imagination.

The most famous examples in the western tradition are the ekphraseis of epic, from Homer until the eighteenth century. However, we are also interested in poems that are not confined to codified ritual, or the products of a courtly or institutional ambience, poems in which other voices appropriate buildings in perhaps satirical or ironic ways to allow them to speak with a different timbre. Finally, we are interested in how such phenomena take shape in (specially commissioned) poems on buildings, whether in stone, metal, glass, or neon; how concrete poetry functions as an intermedium; and not only the written text but also performative poetry such as spoken word. Contributions may come from any epoch and any region of the globe.

Session Co-Chairs: Fabio Barry, Stanford University, and Maarten Delbeke, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Architecture in Northern Europe c. 1380–c. 1530

This session proposes to bring to the fore a body of material that is neglected in nearly all survey books and architectural curricula, but that includes big ideas expressed in very big and admirable buildings. Complex mathematics expressed in complex vaults and piers, and the gradual expansion of monarchy as well as of self-governing communities are aspects of the technical and social circumstances surrounding these buildings. The potential range of material can include the autumnal flowering of late Gothic as well as the nascent Renaissance, to use an old-fashioned but still useful and familiar term. Papers addressing work done in Europe north of the Alps, from Russia to the Iberian Peninsula, from Scandinavia and the British Isles to the edges of the Alps will be welcomed. Decoration intrinsic to architecture, such as a discussion of vaulting patterns or ornament applied to the building are other possible subjects for presentation. Both secular and religious architecture flourished in this period, despite wars and fluctuations in population, and papers on either or both may form part of the session. 

Session Chair: Carol Herselle Krinsky, New York University

Baroque in Piedmont: Counter-Reformation and Scientific Revolution

The period 1660–1760 in Piedmont is marked by the activity of a number of highly prominent Baroque architects. The works of Guarino Guarini, Filippo Juvara, Benedetto Alfieri, and Bernardo Vittone count among the highest achievements of late Baroque architecture and are regularly cited as examples in general surveys of architectural history. One exceptional aspect of Piedmontese Baroque architecture is the substantial theoretical concerns manifested not only in Guarini’s extensive treatises on philosophy, mathematics, or astronomy, or Vittone’s architectural writings, but also in the exceptional complexity of actual design works and their geometry, in which the latest mathematical theories played an important role.

The session is intended to address the intellectual efforts of Piedmontese Baroque architects (both in the form of written theoretical works and architectural designs), as well as the complex nexus between ideas, views and arguments that influenced them: the continuation of Renaissance traditions, genuine developments within Baroque architecture, the loyalty to Counter-Reformation perspectives, all of these influences sometimes in contrast and sometimes supported by the new ideas that were generated by the scientific revolution and the raise of the Enlightenment. On the one hand, there was the corpus of theoretical perspectives about design principles, proportions, classical orders, and spatial composition that Baroque architecture developed from the Renaissance; on the other the new challenges to the theorization (and the justification) of such perspectives that resulted from the new worldview, based on the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, in which old Renaissance perspectives lost their credibility. 

A topic of this complexity necessarily invites multidisciplinary perspectives. In recent decades works of Baroque architects have often attracted the attention of architects who specialize in digital architecture and approaches to Piedmontese Baroque based on innovative technologies are particularly welcome. 

Session Chair: Branko Mitrović, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Breaking the Bronze Ceiling: Memorials and Gender

The recent tumult over Confederate monuments has shined a bright light on race and memorialization, yet gender in its broadest sense remains relatively neglected in the literature. To be sure, there are prominent “great woman” monuments, including those to Maria Theresa and Queen Victoria. But these are exceptions in a world of great man monuments. Less than 7% of the 5,193 monuments in the United States recognize women. Newly founded organizations such as “Monumental Women” and “Breaking the Bronze Ceiling” are responding to this dilemma. Indeed, a new generation of memorials to women is taking shape including those that commemorate women’s role in war, the plight of Korean comfort women, and a variety of cultural contributions. This session aims to historicize and conceptualize gender and memorialization in a global context.

Efforts to break the bronze ceiling dovetail with feminism and most recently the MeToo Movement, but they are also historical, being deeply ingrained in the gender inequalities structured into public space. The session seeks to historicize the contemporary effort to build monuments to women or consider it within a broader history of gendered planning and design. How have women been memorialized throughout history? Why have women been relegated to allegorical roles, rather than historical ones? What role have women played in the creation of public monuments? Or, moving beyond the object, how have practices of commemoration encouraged the performance of particular gender roles? We welcome papers across historical eras and geographical contexts that place male and female memorial representation into tension, address female visibility and invisibility in the built environment, explore spaces and practices of gender inclusion and exclusion, or investigate battles over memorial representation.

Session Co-Chairs: Valentina Rozas-Krause, University of California, Berkeley, and Andrew M. Shanken, University of California, Berkeley

Building with Timber: Beyond Global Material and Regional Culture

Despite the global ubiquity of industrialized timber construction, timber architecture cannot avoid residual associations with tradition, local culture, and manual craft. This inner contradiction is clearly visible in the paradox of timber modernism, a locus of tangible tensions between universal commodity and regional culture. While architects may attempt to strip timber of its emotive connotations, the undertones of domesticity and warmth remain a corrective to modernized production. Conversely, the infrastructure of timber construction extends beyond the end products of architecture. Timber architectural production is therefore dependent, beyond the volition of architects and clients, on other scales, from land management to details effected by norms and standards within the building industry. Timber’s material flow plays a geo-political role, as regional timber cultures emerge from a mixture of mythical nation-building and entirely pragmatic rationales. Policies, economic factors, and cultural background shape a place’s relationship with this living material and forms the context for timber architecture. Widening architectural analysis to include a fuller range of causalities allows us to reconsider a historiography of timber architecture that addresses these contradictions. 

This session proposes an alternative intellectual history of timber architecture as simultaneously cultural artifact, material commodity, environmental resource, and structural element. It aims, firstly, to create a more nuanced understanding of how architectural materiality might address the inner contradiction between global standardization and regional cultural narratives. Secondly, it aims to widen the study of architectural materiality by taking into account the full range of scales deployed in design. Finally, it examines the spatial and symbolic possibilities of timber architecture in the contemporary landscape. Papers are invited to explore the connections, inherent to timber construction, between globalism and locality, industry and craft, innovation and tradition, modernity and anachronism. Historical case studies that address a range of scales and temporalities will be prioritized.

Session Co-Chairs: Laila Seewang, Portland State University, and Irina Davidovici, ETH Zürich

Catastrophe, Capitalism and Architecture in the Greater Caribbean

Extreme weather events, hurricanes especially, constitute the greater Caribbean. Hurricanes defined a shared identity in the region, well before the empires of Europe or the United States began consolidating power through human acts of violence, destruction, and reconstruction. The hurricane is inarguably an ancient and still meaningful force, uniting Caribbean and Gulf Coast cultures in its potential for destruction. This is especially so today, during the so-called Anthropocene era, as human technologies and interventions create unforeseen natural disasters and dramatic shifts in the earth’s climate. Those storms and their aftermath provide a framework for discussing actuality and potentiality in the architectural context of the region, revealing a coeval history of imperialism, nationalism, tourism, and disaster capitalism.      

We therefore invite papers that deal with architectural responses to hurricanes and natural disasters in the greater Caribbean—climate-adapted architecture, restorations, and architectural destruction, but also the history of catastrophe, its relationship to the geo-economics of capitalism, and the negotiations of local identities. Questions that papers might address include: How is architectural destruction measured? What architectural monuments are restored after a storm and why? Who makes decisions regarding architecture in the wake of extreme weather events and what interests are prioritized? What new architecture is built, and how?   

We seek papers that, while historically situated, speak to our troubled present amid global climate change, especially in the wake of 2017’s Maria and Irma. Through presentations that examine the architectural history of natural disasters in the greater Caribbean, we ultimately hope to gain insight into the role that architecture may play in broader debates over climate change, catastrophe, and capitalism today. It is a past with profound ramifications for our collective future, not just in the Caribbean, but the world. 

Session Co-Chairs: Joseph R. Hartmann, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Erica Morawski, Pratt Institute

Cosmopolitan and Local in the Colonial Americas

Despite a generation of scholarship emphasizing the contingent nature of cultural artifacts, Alois Riegl’s notion that a Kunstwollen, or art-will, makes its way across the globe, transforming material life according to its own imperatives, remains stubbornly influential. This is especially so for the era of European colonialism, in which the spread of classicism is often treated like a benign contagion, infecting the building culture of regions around the globe, waiting only on good taste and great fortunes to plant itself in the provinces. The era of colonization offers an opportunity to critique Riegl’s premise by observing how the diffusion of form is strategic and deliberate, rather than unconscious and mystical. 

The transmission of cosmopolitan design was an important vector for the projection of European power. Colonial leaders used fashionable material culture to establish rank, importing neoclassical accoutrements to demonstrate their access to cultural and financial capital. But savvy would-be leaders recognized the limits on their ability to stand apart thanks to the restrictions of propriety. The social structures and labor regimes of Quito and Kingston required different forms of housing than those in Granada and Bristol. Local cultural norms about luxury affected the spread of urbane tastes, as designs calculated to impress in the metropole were adjusted for colonial circumstance. 

This session seeks papers that address the relationship between local attachments and cosmopolitan ambitions in Europe’s American colonies. Topics should focus on building projects planned or undertaken in the Americas during the era of colonization, roughly from the beginning of the sixteenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth. Those projects may be at any scale, from individual buildings to entire settlements, and their function may be ecclesiastic, domestic, commercial, or governmental. All approaches are welcome but those grounded in the contextual interpretation of architecture are especially encouraged.

Session Chair: Jeffrey E. Klee, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Designing in the Deserts

This session explores the ways in which politicians, planners, engineers, and architects developed, exploited, transformed, urbanized, militarized, or polluted the underground and over ground territories of the worlds’ major deserts—both hot and cold—since the eighteenth century up to the present day. These climatically challenging regions have often served to search, extract, and transport the deserts’ various natural resources, such as oil and gas, as well as to design and build new cities, infrastructures, tourist complexes, farming systems, solar power plants, climate and aerospace research centers, chemical weapons testing complexes, nuclear weapon research centers and testing sites, and other settlements. How were these designs managed and implemented? What were their impacts on adjacent populations and environments? To what extent did these deserts’ transformations influence the politico-economic assets of the governments in question? 

The aim of this session is to address these questions and critically analyze the design processes and mechanisms of civil or military built environments and infrastructures planned or implemented in one of the worlds’ major deserts located in either Antarctica, Africa, Arctic, Asia, Australia, Middle East, and the Americas. Of special interest are papers that disclose how particular protagonists, protocols, projects, or built environments obeyed or disobeyed national or transnational directives and laws and exposed the multifaceted effects and legacies of such programs at an international level. Papers that propose original methods and approaches for scrutinizing these designs, including their roots and ramifications in historical, politico-economic, and environmental terms, are highly encouraged. 

Session Chair: Samia Henni, Cornell University 

Digital Pedagogies for Architectural History 

From large, hand-drawn diagrams displayed in mechanics’ institutes and watercolor reconstructions at the École des Beaux-Arts, to photographs and lantern (and later 35 mm) slides in university lecture halls, representational images have always been central to the teaching of architectural history. While the digital revolution allowed architectural historians to access an unprecedented number of still and moving images to display in their classes, it did not immediately alter pedagogical practices of gathering an audience around a single screen for “lecture/discussion.” Developments in digital humanities and cognitive science related to new technologies, however, offer insights for altering and improving students’ engagement and learning.

Due to their traditional reliance on representations of their source material and frequent use of digital tools in their research, architectural historians can be expected to be leaders in digital pedagogy. Just as virtual reality, 3D reconstructions, mapping, photogrammetry, real-time visualization, GIS, and laser scanning offer new means of representing and experiencing architecture, online platforms, tools, and cloud applications, utilized through online collaboration and peer-to-peer learning (especially within a culture that embraces “curation” as a part of daily life), can heighten reflection and disseminate authority. Shifted responsibilities of teacher and learner can introduce new ways of seeing (and potentially democratizing the canon), while inspiring new habits of thinking and new achievements in learning.

This session seeks innovations in the use of digital tools to equip a new pedagogy for architectural history, both in its theory and practice. Developments in course design, content delivery, and student projects, whether in online, face-to-face, or hybrid environments, are welcome. Our goal is to share positive experiences in leveraging digital technologies to provide students greater agency, to nurture their metacognition, and to improve their understanding of architecture’s history as a whole.

Session Chair: Jhennifer A. Amundson, Judson University

Global Modernism and the Postcolonial

Ever since the postcolonial critiques of the 1980s and the 1990s, received narratives of architectural modernism—as a Eurocentric construct that was regionalized or not and fragmented in its various non-metropolitan locales—have been revised and re-theorized under what can be referred to as global modernism. Global modernism, in this sense, is not just the question of including ‘non-Western’ examples in established canons of modernism, but of rethinking the very mechanics of the origins, dissemination, and iteration of modernist ideas and forms in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan locations. This work requires a revisiting of both the canons of modernism as also a decolonization of that canon in postcolonial and post-humanist ways. This panel invites papers that are both theoretical and case-study-based which contribute to a postcolonial construction of global modernism that are not simply national, regional, or local, and which instead foster a broader global historiography of modernism.

Session Co-Chairs: Vikramaditya Prakash, University of Washington, and Maristella Casciato, Getty Research Institute

Graduate Student Lightning Talks

The Graduate Student Lightning Talks provide graduate students with the opportunity to test ideas, refine thoughts, and enhance presentation skills among a circle of empathetic and supportive peers. This session is composed of up to 16 five-minute talks of approximately 650–700 words each that allow graduate students to introduce new and original research in various stages of progress. In their presentations, students are encouraged to raise questions over the direction of their investigations, explore methodology, or present challenges they have encountered in the development of their ideas. Papers should be clearly and concisely presented, with focused and well-chosen images, in order to encourage thoughtful feedback from the audience during the question and answer period. Students at both the master's and PhD levels are invited to apply by submitting a succinct abstract of no more than 300 words. Authors/co-authors must be graduate students at the time of the conference and must present in person at the session. The SAH Board of Directors’ Graduate Student Representative serves as chair of these popular five-minute presentations.

Session Chair: Jennifer Tate, University of Texas at Austin

Monumentality in Pre-Modern Architecture

From the Temple at Karnak (2055 BCE) to the Parthenon (447 BCE) to Chartres Cathedral (1194 CE), monumentality is an almost ubiquitous theme in pre-modern architectural traditions. Yet, any discussion of monumentality in pre-modern architecture must grapple with the fact that the terms “monumental” and “monumentality” appear only in the early modern era. According to ancient texts, the Latin noun monumentum (deriving from moneo, “to remind, warn”) emphasized not necessarily size or grandiosity, as the modern term implies, but the combination of commemoration, durability, and visibility (Meyers 2012). Bruce Trigger (1990) has explained the logistical universality of monumentalism in the architecture of pre-modern complex societies as an enduring reflection of power over materials, specialized skills, and mass labor by patron elites. Starting from this thought-provoking premise, the session explores the origins, development, and widespread commitment to colossal scale, as well as the symbolic meanings and necessary technologies that facilitated monumentality in pre-modern architecture.  The subject is stimulating because it is multivalent. It is not only tectonic in nature, but it also addresses complex relationships between architecture and its social and political structures.  

This session seeks to expand and unite explorations into architectural monumentality. It aims to incorporate topics that cover both a wide chronological range, from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern period, and geographical scope to question how monumentality was perceived in various cultures and why it was valued by both architects and patrons through time and space. Proposals that present unique methodological frameworks, address the topic of monumentality within broad and multi-format contexts, and discuss Ancient and/or Pre-modern viewers are preferred. Proposals with trans- and interdisciplinary approaches are especially welcome, as well as those with innovative theoretical perspectives on the role of monumentality to the interpretation of architecture. 

Session Co-Chairs: Anne Hrychuk Kontokosta, New York University, and Peter De Staebler, Pratt Institute

Muslim Prayer Beyond the Mosque

Scholarship detailing the socio-religious, epigraphic, and structural nature of Islamic places of prayer often focuses upon the paradigmatic mosque. The consequence is that certain worship traditions and building practices have been pushed to the margins of the academic record and the recognized architectural expressions of the faith. This reflects centuries of recorded statements issued by rulers and the religious elite that have positioned the mosque as the primary, and even “proper” site of worship for Muslims. However, the Qur’an provides virtually no instructions regarding the form a site of Muslim worship must take. Architectures of so-called sectarian and heretical practices, sites of Muslims living geographically, linguistically, and temporally distant from the earliest, central Islamic monuments in the Near and Middle East, places of worship created due to the changing circumstances of communities of believers, and the work of artists and architects questioning identity and politics through space all provide other iterations and experiences of architecture for Muslim worship. Congregations, families, and individuals use a variety of structures and locations for prayer and ceremony, determined by the demands of culture, work, education, travel, and migration.

Welcome subjects for this panel include: historical and contemporary studies of Sufi orders and spiritual guilds; sectarian and syncretic movements; doctrinal statements and hadith on the use of space and prayer comportment; rural and urban dynamics, women, children, and the elderly; isolated and nascent communities; refugee and migrant communities; new arrivals to predominantly non-Muslim surroundings; military and conquest period settlements; the contemporary workforce seeking prayer accommodations; artists exploring the Muslim self and prayer; and self-generated sites and images of prayer and worship. Submissions addressing the architectural question of diversity in Islamic places of prayer, ceremony, and worship beyond the walls of the mosque are encouraged from all fields and methodological perspectives. 

Session Chair: Angela Andersen, University of Victoria

Open Session (2)

Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Papers submitted to the open sessions are assessed in terms of perceived merit, and not in regard to geography, era, theme, etc.

Opposite/Apposite: Exchanges between Australasia and Ibero-America

When the map of the world is superimposed over its opposite, an inverted Australia sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, midway between Europe and Latin America; Melanesia brushes the coast of South America; and New Zealand’s North Island falls directly on Spain’s central plains. On the surface, the triangulation of Australasia, the Iberian Peninsula, and Latin America may appear to be merely an exercise in antipodal coincidences—quite literally opposites. Nonetheless, this seemingly odd juxtaposition of regions and their Antipodes reveals shared experiences that merit formal scholarly exploration beyond typical geographic limitations. 

Following the Second World War, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America used architecture and material culture to explore their increasing involvement in international affairs. While Australia and New Zealand reached out to the Pacific region, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America reconsidered their shared heritage. These multi-directional exchanges are evident in the trajectories of noteworthy individuals. For instance, immediately prior to establishing his practice in Sydney, Harry Seidler travelled extensively throughout Latin America, and had apprenticed with Oscar Niemeyer; two decades later he returned to the region to design housing in Mexico (1969–1970). Likewise, Rafael Moneo produced drawings for the Sydney Opera House, while employed by Jørn Utzon. 

We invite papers that link Australasia with Ibero-America between 1946 and the inauguration of the Sydney Opera House (1973), but we also recognize that these exchanges were fruitful, and often continued into the 1990s. We are particularly interested in more globalising narratives that investigate deals, models, practices, and experts that moved between Australasia and Ibero-America in fluid, complex, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary ways. By bringing these opposite regions into apposition, we hope to discover transnational networks of exchange, as well as to illuminate experiences that disclose the broader global context of the mid-twentieth century. 

Session Co-Chairs: Brett Tippey, Kent State University, and Macarena de la Vega de León, The University of Queensland

Placing Race and Gender: New Findings and Strategies 

Just over a decade has passed since Gurel and Anthony’s grim observation that “the contributions of women remain only marginally represented in the grand narrative of architecture. And for the most part, African Americans are omitted altogether” (“The Canon and the Void,” JAE, 59:3, 2006). A flurry of studies in the 1990s addressed the invisibility of women in our histories and of gender in our spatial analyses; a recent uptick folds in calls for transnational and intersectional perspectives. Progress has been made in surfacing the contributions of people of color, highlighting the builders and skilled craftsmen of the antebellum South, and exposing racialized ways in which the built environment has constrained experience. Travis has laid groundwork for an archive of African-American architects; Mitchell engages their fraught political history; Lokko, Gooden, and Wilkins bring the tools of critical theory to bear. Lipsitz offers a sweeping framework for studying the spatial inscription of racial difference (How Racism Takes Place, 2007) and the American plantation landscape is being re-read from the perspective of the enslaved. These findings have filtered out to the public in recast tours, restored spaces, and entire museums in Washington and Montgomery, Alabama. In parallel, National Geographic (1/2017) and Nature (10/22/18) are conveying scientifically-based and conceptually elastic understandings of sex and gender to a broad audience.

This session invites scholarship that builds upon this scrutiny of architecture’s history through the critical lenses of race and/or gender, or strategies for translating such research into the classroom. Suggestive, but not exclusive, touchstones include the innovative approaches of Shabazz on the “carceral” landscape of black America (Spatializing Blackness, 2015); McKittrick on the compounded spatial marginalization of women of color (Demonic Grounds, 2006), and Doan on the “tyranny” of conventionally gendered space on trans and non-binary users (Gender, Place and Culture, 17:5, 2010).

Session Chair: Lauren O’Connell, Ithaca College

Prescription Landscapes: Designing for Human Health

Throughout history, gardens and landscapes have been created and promoted for their human health benefits. Medicinal plants were grown in medieval monastic gardens. In Confuciuan China gardening was a means for cultivating the soul. In nineteenth-century North America and Europe new landscape types like sanatorium gardens, public parks, and playgrounds emerged to combat the deleterious human conditions found in industrializing cities. By the late 1960s and 1970s the emergence of environmental psychology helped to forge the creation of therapeutic gardens and green spaces near housing. Today, extensive landscapes and infrastructures serve the production of medicine and the global distribution system of natural and synthetic drugs. 

Topics to be addressed may include the role that nature and the design of the built environment have played in the discourse around human health and for human wellbeing; the design, function, use, and aesthetics of outdoor and indoor medicinal laboratories, hospitals, and sanatoria; the health metaphors used when describing landscapes and the built environment; design paradigms and their relationships to the human body and its health; the role of plants and planting design in health discourse; and the relationships between particular health treatises and the built environment. What were the particular health crises that instigated changes in the design of the built environment? And how and why did designers react? What types of landscapes were considered healthy and why? And what may the past experiences with designing for health teach us about how to address contemporary health crises like obesity, asthma, and premature death caused by urban heat island effects? We welcome paper proposals related to any of these topics and questions across the ages and across the world. 

Session Co-Chairs: Susan Herrington, The University of British Columbia, and Sonja Duempelmann, Harvard University

Preserving the Postmodern Past

The United States is home to many iconic—and threatened—examples of postmodern architecture, including Johnson and Burgee’s AT&T Building in New York City; Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown’s Abrams House in Pittsburgh, PA; and Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Some, like Charles Moore’s Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, were recently lost. This session will address the challenges and opportunities of the preservation of postmodern architectural resources.

Papers may investigate divided opinions within the professional design communities, difficulty in addressing construction materials and assemblies with relatively short lifespans, National Register criteria that are weighted toward older and more traditional architectural resources, and a public perception that these resources do not rise to the level of “historic.” Papers may discuss the challenges faced by having projects examined by reviewers at federal, state, and local levels who express an ambivalence towards the architecture of the postmodern past, while applying standards of review better suited to older, more recognizably “historic” resources. Papers may address the subject of patina: while traditional materials may age gracefully, and can be repaired by the principal of replacement in kind, materials used in postmodern architecture, such as plywood and applied graphic panels, do not age gracefully, and often “repair or replace in kind” is supplanted by “replace entirely with replica.” Papers may also address the subject of postmodern ornament and the extent to which emphasis on its whimsical aspects has distracted from some of the more significant planning aspects of these projects. Papers may also examine the difficulty in obtaining (and maintaining) perspective regarding buildings this recently constructed.

Session Chair: Bryan Clark Green, Commonwealth Architects

Reconsidering the Architecture of the Vacation, 1865–1945

In the decades following the Civil War, Americans of many classes utilized increasing transportation opportunities to leave the perceived ills of urban areas and escape to forests, mountains, and coastlines to relax and restore. Across North America, new building typologies, landscape interventions, and styles of architecture responded to evolving needs and desires of this burgeoning vacation population. In the final decades of the nineteenth century, styles such as the Stick, Shingle, and Adirondack became ubiquitous in vacation destinations in both the United States and Canada. In time, evolving tastes and interests spawned other varieties of vacation architecture and landscape modifications to enhance viewsheds, facilitate engagement with the natural world, and encourage leisure.

This panel seeks papers that reconsider the architecture and landscapes of the vacation as they respond to modern scholarly interests. Concentrating on the period between the Civil War and World War II, this panel encourages scholarship focused on not only new interpretations of nineteenth-century vacation architecture, but also twentieth-century architectural responses to the vacation across North America. This panel will reevaluate the architecture of the vacation broadly, including the design, creation, and use of buildings and landscapes for a myriad of vacation pursuits spanning different population groups and regions. Though focused on North American vacation architecture, papers reflecting other locations will be considered to provide a more global approach to the topic of vacations. This panel encourages interdisciplinary approaches, and papers may address the roles of leisure, health, environment, religion, self-representation, economics, and other topics that influenced and shaped architectural responses to the vacation. This thematic panel welcomes proposals that enhance an understanding of the meaning and interpretation of vacation architecture and landscapes writ large.

Session Co-Chairs: C. Ian Stevenson, Boston University, and David W. Granston III, Boston University

Saecularia et Ecclesia: Deconstructing the Separation of Sacred and Profane Architecture

The field of medieval architectural history has traditionally been defined by ecclesiastical structures. This focus on religious buildings obscures the full range of medieval architectural practice and creates a hierarchy of scholarship that prioritizes church architecture over other forms and monuments. In contrast, work of the past several decades has expanded this narrative, increasingly incorporating secular architecture, especially military structures, into the study of medieval building. The scholarship of Stephen Gardner and Sheila Bonde has demonstrated the many intersections of ecclesiastical and secular construction practices. Similarly, Charles Coulson and Jean Mesqui have revealed the symbolic function of many features of military architecture, such as the use of crenellation as a sign of lordship.

The proposed session further seeks to explore how medieval patrons and builders drew on multiple architectural typologies, and thus aims to begin to address the limitations of our modern categorization of secular vs. ecclesiastical. We seek papers focused on the medieval period, broadly defined. The session welcomes papers on subjects from Latin, Byzantine, and Islamicate contexts. Papers may focus on any aspect of interchange or connection between religious and secular architecture, from issues of patronage and construction practices to representation and preservation. In keeping with the decentering of cathedrals within the architectural canon, we also invite papers that highlight experimentation with new architectural forms that occurred at the micro-level in parish churches and vernacular architecture. 

Session Co-Chairs: M. Jordan Love, The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia, and Maile S. Hutterer, University of Oregon

Sites Unseen: Other Cultural Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest

This session is organized by the Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

The built environment of the Pacific Northwest reflects a diversity of traditions, yet the full range of its architecture remains understudied. This session will examine Northwestern cultural landscapes that lie outside of the dominant culture, such as those of Indigenous peoples, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, women, LGBTQAA+, European ethnic groups, religious sects, and other specific populations. Papers might examine physical structures these groups designed on their own, their reuse of existing buildings for their own purposes, or spaces they occupied intentionally or involuntarily (including agricultural landscapes, internment camps, and reservations).

Papers are welcome on a wide variety of sites, time periods, and occupants/users. For example, recent archaeological, ethnological, and fieldwork studies of Indigenous groups can help us understand the many native cultures in this region. Migrants from Mexico and Central America have had a regional presence since the early-twentieth century, yet the Latin American cultural landscape of the Northwest remains largely hidden from the historic and contemporary record. Asian immigrants helped develop the Pacific Northwest; what can a site like Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon, or the East Kong Yick Building in Seattle reveal about their experience? Seattle’s Central District and Portland’s Albina neighborhood have shifted from majority African American in the late 1960s to mostly white today, but what do we know about the black cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest—its homes, schools, stores, clubs, and places of worship? The session is intended to expose ways in which architecture can represent different cultural landscapes within a single, culturally complex geographical region. 

Session Co-Chairs: J. Philip Gruen, Washington State University, and James Buckley, University of Oregon

The Architect as a Global Entrepreneur (1850–2000)

Most architectural histories focus on particular buildings, well-known oeuvres, or commissioned designs, conveniently leaving aside the question of how our built environment is actually financed. Architects are often portrayed as independent masterminds, more akin to artists in ateliers than entrepreneurs in the real world. The aim of this session is to investigate the commercial ties between architects and their clients, in particular, property developers and building companies. 

Since a substantial part of the modern built environment exists because of private business, it should only be natural to study our environs bearing this in mind. Architects and the commercial firms they were associated with played instrumental roles in the design, financing, construction, and developments of a whole range of typologies, from sprawling suburbia to inner-city redevelopment schemes.

This session seeks to embed the entrepreneurial architect more firmly into the narrative of nineteenth- and twentieth-century architectural history. We encourage papers to consider the complexity of commercial ties with a scope that extends to the Global South. By doing so, we hope to broaden the perspective on the agencies and mechanisms by which the diffusion of ideas on architecture and property development occur, as we believe that the circulation of architectural knowledge was often primarily driven by economic expansion. These assumptions lead us to single out three interrelated subtopics that deserve further investigation: the works and worldviews of both architects with commercial ties and those who have turned into developers themselves; tensions between design creativity and capitalist goals; and the emergence of global architectural offices. 

Session Co-Chairs: Monika Motylinska, IRS Erkner, and Tim Verlaan, University of Amsterdam

The Architecture of Aging 

As architectural historians have broadened their focus to consider how race, gender, class, and sexuality have affected the history of the built environment, age as a category of analysis has received far less attention. Although the architecture of both childhood and the nuclear family have been studied extensively, the history of architecture for seniors has yet to receive the same degree of consideration. This session seeks to correct this imbalance by honing in on the architecture of aging—a timely topic given growing life expectancies in the western world, in which building housing for the elderly has become urgent. 

We envision this session as a means of providing context for contemporary debates about design for older adults. What kinds of built solutions have been forged to accommodate aging and how has policy impacted this landscape? How is an architecture of age linked with other categories of difference? How have material interventions interfaced with both the medical and psychic reality of aging? 

 We seek papers that consider how an architecture of aging has manifested itself across cultures, time periods, typologies, and geographies. Papers may address case studies provided they speak to larger issues that help us understand the history of housing aging populations. We are interested in topics ranging from purpose built accommodations for the elderly, from whole structures to elements of the built environment (such as ramps), as well as how buildings have been modified over time to accommodate a person, group of persons, or population as they age. Papers that integrate theories for understanding space and aging, or which offer a method through which we can consider age as a category of difference, are particularly welcome. 

Session Co-Chairs: Anna Andrzejewski, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Willa Granger, the University of Texas at Austin

The Campus: Pedagogy and Spatial Imagination

Despite being a verdant site for architectural experimentation, the campus has not attracted due attention in architectural history writing. Paul Turner argues that the campus is “an American planning tradition.” Stefan Muthesius shows how the typology became transnational in the post-war educational building boom of the United States, England, Canada, West Germany, and France. Much earlier, schools abroad with missionary roots translated the campus typology to the Global South as part of their founders’ attempts to influence local populations. 

Spaces of education are examples of Foucault’s “swarming institutions.” Organized education was never intended to “liberate” society. It was always for pragmatic concerns, e.g. for disciplining society, inculcating ideology (e.g. religion, nation states, imperialistic agendas) or maintaining social distinction. Today, economic interests seem to steer the planning and design of many knowledge institutions transported abroad. Whatever their initial motivations may be, contemporary institutions of transcultural learning can never be simply transplants of foreign formal attitudes, vehicles of imposed ideology, or “outposts of empire.” They are also constituted by locally driven change, and, as such, act as independent cultural agents that work transnationally. 

What kind of pedagogical models does the design of campuses suggest and promote? How do campuses work as part of larger networks of knowledge institutions? What do we know about the campus typology as it has been translated around the world? Crucially at this time of globalization and digital distant learning, are universities developing self-conscious spatial models that align with their pedagogical missions? How does campus design impact architecture and cities beyond its physical limits? This panel invites papers that examine spatial aspects of campuses; especially welcome are paper proposals based on analysis of case studies from the Global South. 

Session Chair: Ipek Türeli, McGill University

The Magnitude of Architecture

As old as civilization itself, measurement is fundamentally intertwined with the material production and knowledge of architecture. Questions of dimension, proportion, scale, and value are all but meaningless without reference to an agreed upon standard. Systematic measurement is also the very medium of commerce and science, the sine qua non of governance and planning. Though indispensable for the adjudication of empirical and universal truths, weights and measures nevertheless remain contingent cultural phenomena: consensual indices that are defined, legislated, and adopted in response to specific material and social conditions. Systems of measure, in other words, have histories, and these histories are bound up with those of architecture in significant ways. The modern project of metrication, for example, was inaugurated architecturally, when, in the late 1790s, sixteen-meter-long pieces of marble were installed on public facades of busy Parisian streets to exhibit the Republic’s newly standardized unit of length. A century earlier, English antiquarians had turned to the Great Pyramid of Giza as a monumental source of metrological authority that endured as a reference standard for the English foot.

This panel aims to explore the relationship between architecture, measurement, material culture, and geopolitics. What are the historical circumstances that have led to the translation of systems of measurement across contexts, geographies, and time? How has architecture participated in processes of standardization, calibration, commensuration, and authentication? How have localized systems of measurement and their transmissions smoothed or disrupted global exchanges in architecture, design, and construction? We invite papers that engage these questions from multiple temporal, geographical, and theoretical perspectives. We are particularly interested in histories of friction and incongruity that enrich our thinking about the metrological beginnings, ends, and limits of architecture.

Session Co-Chairs: Melany Park, Harvard University, and Chelsea Spencer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Problems and Potentials of the Architectural Biography

This session revisits architectural biography in light of a shift away from individualist understandings of architectural production. In the mid-twentieth century, influential biographies of modern masters merged the genres of biography and monograph, illustrating life trajectories via built outputs. More recently, a number of texts and documentaries show an interest in the more human side of iconic figures. In some cases, the agenda of architectural and design biographies extends beyond the field itself, for example, E.P. Thomson’s William Morris offers not just the story of one man, but an account of how aesthetic and political theories merged in the Arts and Crafts and British labor movements.

Recently, scholars have begun to question whether individual biographies—especially of so-called “Great Men”—should occupy our historical energies. Influenced by sociology and anthropology, the field has rightly encouraged a wider scope of interest, in which historians document not just the auteur but also the collective contributions of firms, collaborators and, in the broadest sense, the social and political milieu. New scholarly work focused on material agency and labor offers critical correctives to art historical models of singular production. Simultaneously, several organizations are working to document the lives and contributes of women and minority architects too long neglected in the field.

Should historians leave architects’ life stories to the promotional efforts of commercial monographs? If not, how can critical insights complicate the linear narratives of individual lives? What methods might allow historians to capture the histories of a broader spectrum of subjects? This session solicits submissions from scholars experimenting with collective biographies, non-human biographies, or fresh takes on the traditional genre. It especially encourages applicants whose work focuses on non-western, queer, or other minority subjects and/or addresses authorship and formal innovation via novel formats, archives, or storytelling techniques.

Session Chair: Anna Goodman, Portland State University

Towards an Accessible Architecture

Accessibility is a cornerstone of the disability rights movement and has become a buzzword in the design community in recent years. About one in four individuals in the United States reports having at least one type of disability and since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (revised in 2010), architects have been required to comply with a number of regulations for accessibility and barrier removal. If our discipline requires ADA compliance from architects, and architects depend on people being able to access their work to fully experience it, why have architectural scholars and historians been fairly reticent on this issue?

Discussions of access in an architectural context extend far beyond people with disabilities, however. We might consider, for example, access denied to people of color through discriminatory housing practices, or access to safe spaces (even restrooms) denied to the LGBTQIA+ and gender non-conforming community. Religion, class, and nationality also play an important role in gaining (or losing) access to certain types of spaces, and all of the above examples, of course, intersect. With this in mind, truly safe, easy, uncontested access to space is guaranteed to only the lucky few.

The purpose of this session is to consider different forms of accessibility in architecture and the ways in which we as practitioners, scholars, and teachers can encourage access in our respective work and workplaces. We invite papers that address the topic of accessibility from a variety of perspectives—access related not only to a physical or cognitive disability but also to barriers based on race, sexuality, gender identity/expression, class, religion, nationality and/or citizenship status, and more. 

Session Co-Chairs: Rebecca Siefert, Governors State University, and Tamekia Bell, Governors State University

Urban Affects: A New Materialist Approach to the Global City

The global city is perceived and practiced in relationship with an emerging body of scholarship that considers the architectural and urban world to be a realm in which multiple forces and intensities, affects and moods, and gestures and their material inscriptions coexist in consistent but aleatory manners. New Materialisms (NM) is one that pays close attention to how our material world is not so much a fixed entity but rather put into a perpetual becoming process. From the perspective of NM, elements shaping the global city such as star architects’ iconic buildings, infrastructures, and the “generic” and spectacular cityscapes are not in opposition to more genuine, locally bound, and nostalgic forms of life. Despite its alienating and reifying nature, the spectacle is a fundamental form of life, mediums becoming messages, and “groundless grounds.”

In a similar vein, the affect theory, although contested, presents a critique of the dominant narrative of primacy of reason and rationality. In the architectural field, this new move to consider affect and mood has generated controversies, some of which include critiques addressing its imprecise and at times subjective engagements with urban discourses that do not bring up immediate solutions in designing the city. Do spectacles and urban affects result in “pre-critical” turn to justify the architecture of neoliberalism? Can urban affects be opted by the civil society to critically engage with issues of environmental protection, economic justice, and urban regeneration and thus help improving the qualities of urban life today? 

We invite papers from architectural/urban scholars whose works explore the multiple dimensions of architecture and the city in relationship with (but not limited to) issues of globalization, para/new materiality, affect, spectacle, and the Anthropocene. 

Session Co-Chairs: Seunghan Paek, Catholic Kwandong University, and Jieheerah Yun, Hongik University

Urban Poverty, Cities, and Architecture

Since the Industrial Revolution, urban poverty has provoked much intellectual debate on what poverty meant for burgeoning industrial cities and the accommodation of their poor population. These debates, in turn, resulted in a variety of poverty-mitigation policies, spatial practices, and housing experiments, transforming the industrial city’s social organization, image, and morphology. Poverty itself was a conflicted term, as both the idea and strategies for its relief changed dramatically. In the nineteenth century, London’s intense urbanization created a highly divisive political debate on how to reform laws related to the poor. The critical question was whether top-down “help” would diminish the poor's ability to take personal responsibility. So intense a philosophical discussion was it that even Tocqueville and Hegel followed the English turmoil with much fascination. In America, the prevalent antebellum view was that the poor had only themselves to blame for their misfortune. By the turn of the twentieth century however, social reform movements, responding to various urban pathologies that accompanied the rapid urbanization of American cities, were seen as effective strategies against poverty. In colonial cities in Asia, South America, and Africa, inequitable access to sanitary services, unmanaged urban growth of “native” sections, and the proliferation of slums demonstrated the spatialized politics of poverty. 

This session invites papers that examine how urban poverty has prompted various architectural and urban experiments, in both western and non-western contexts. How did different poverty-mitigation policies inform the production of space? Has modernism failed to address urban poverty as a socioeconomic condition of cities, undermining the urgency of its mitigation and marginalizing its victims? Was urban poverty as a catalyst for spatial imaginations ignored in histories of architecture? 

Session Chair: Adnan Morshed, Catholic University of America

U.S. Design Influence in Twentieth-Century Latin American Architecture

In the twentieth century, the United States played a vital role in the development of Latin America. Its influence, observed in political, economic, cultural, and technological areas, transformed the landscape of many Latin American cities.

In Exporting American Architecture 1870–2000, Jeffrey Cody summarizes the impact of the United States globally without emphasizing its significant impact on Latin America’s built landscape. For example, in 1905 Argentina, contractors from the United States introduced the skeletal steel structure as a building system for architect Alfred Zucker’s Plaza Hotel. In 1890, the architectural firm of De Lemos and Cordes employed in office buildings and department stores in Mexico City the American skeleton constructional system devleoped by Milliken Bros. Co. of New York. McKim, Mead & White’s design for the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba of 1930 featured the work of engineers Purdy and Henderson who utilized foundation solutions commonly found in the United States but new to Cuban contractors. Truscon Steel Company of Youngstown, Ohio, built assembly and manufacturing plants for the Ford Motor Company in Mexico City and Montevideo, Uruguay. Additionally, through the “Good Neighbor Policy” (1933), architects such as Richard Neutra played the role of cultural ambassador and influenced the design of hospitals and school buildings first in Puerto Rico, and later throughout Latin America. 

The session’s goal is to analyze how United States-based architects, engineers, and contractors influenced design in Latin America throughout the twentieth century. Papers that address case studies related to specific architects, contractors, and engineers are welcome, as are works that analyze building genres in a specific Latin American country.

Session Chair: Perla Santa Ana Lozada, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Women and Architecture in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds 

In recent decades scholars including Emily Hemelrijk, Leslie Brubaker, and Therese Martin have examined the roles and agency of women as viewers and patrons of ancient and medieval monuments, but there remains an underlying assumption in the field of architectural history that ancient and medieval monuments were made by and for men. This assumption is so pervasive that when a monument has a female patron, it is either considered the work of a male relative or labeled an anomaly. The dedicatory inscription of the second-century nymphaeum at Olympia, for instance, records that Annia Regilla built it, yet scholars routinely attribute it to her husband, Herodes Atticus, erasing her legacy as patron. The architectural legacies of female rulers and imperial family members are often similarly treated. Additionally, female viewers of architecture are typically ignored in the analysis of buildings. For example, few publications on the twelfth-century Chartres Cathedral discuss the peasant mothers who asked the Virgin Mary for cures for themselves and their children at a sacred well in the crypt, a practice that likely continued local pagan healing rituals. Recognition of these female viewers provides insight into how medieval Church authorities harnessed persistent pre-Christian cultic activities while also framing them as the marginal concerns of women.

We invite papers that either address theoretical or methodological questions about how female agency or the category of gender can be productively embedded in the analysis of ancient and medieval architecture, or present case studies engaging with female patronage, production, and/or use of architectural monuments or urban landscapes. The session’s goal is to discuss the legacy of women in the construction and maintenance of architectural spaces, and to shift the conversation of agency and audience away from the presumption that ancient and medieval architecture is masculine in intent and reception. 

Session Co-Chairs: Brenda Longfellow, University of Iowa, and Kriszta Kotsis, University of Puget Sound