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World Histories of Architecture: the Emergence of a New Genre in the Nineteenth Century
The topic of the workshop is the emergence of the first surveys of world history of architecture in the nineteenth century. While today we consider the images and categorizations in these older architectural surveys as confirming dominant values and consolidating established practices, we propose that, at the time of its first invention, the historical survey text was explorative, and not without a critical dimension. Being conscious of their pioneering venture, nineteenth-century architectural historians accounted for their method, compared the genre with others (treatises, albums, parallel, dictionary, encyclopedia), distinguished architectural history from other disciplines such as art history, (cultural) history and archeology, and defined important terms such as monument, art, development and style.
The workshop World Histories of Architecture aims to recover the reflections of the original authors on the advantages and limitations of the survey text, believing that their thoughts
1. will put a new light on the origins of the genre (its objectives and idiosyncracies) and its importance for the formation and consolidation of the discipline of architectural history. As such, World Histories of Architecture fills an important gap in our historiographical knowledge of nineteenth century architectural history writing.
2. are instructive for our current effort to question established canons and to write comprehensive global architectural histories, from a post-colonial perspective. Nineteenth century authors touched upon tensions that are still relevant and debated today in the fields of (architectural) history and cultural heritage studies: tensions between a global versus national perspective, between general narratives versus local stories, between professional and popular/vernacular knowledge, between cultural transmission and indigineous phenomena.
World Histories of Architecture will contribute to contemporary scholarschip of global architectural history by enhancing a better historical and theoretical understanding of global architectural narratives.
The aim of the workshop is twofold 1) to publish the first comprehensive study on nineteenth-century world architectural histories and 2) to create a network where scholars on nineteenth century architectural historiography and today’s scholars on world architectural history can exchange ideas and may develop new projects.