Session at the Society of Architectural Historians Annual International Conference in Seattle, Washington

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), “Introductory Lecture on Architecture” by Strickland (Philadelphia, 1824), “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, after the 1920s, disseminated his views on architecture, urbanism, and technology via numerous lectures throughout Europe, whereas Metabolism was initiated at the 1960 World Design Conference in Tokyo, declaring “Metabolism 1960: Proposals for a New Urbanism”. 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 to 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, the 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