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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Event Archive

Early Modern Viewers and Buildings in Motion

25th February 2017, 09:30, St. John's College, University of Cambridge

Please click here to register for this conference, the deadline for registration is Sunday 12th February 2017.

Movement, both literal and metaphorical, lies at the heart of early modern European architectural theory, design and experience. Architectural authors invoked the notion of progress as temporal motion, structured their books as tours of buildings, and followed the ancient Roman Vitruvius in explaining how to manipulate the motions of winds through building design. Simultaneously, poets led their readers on tours of house and estate, and Aristotelian as well as mechanistic philosophers averred that motion was inherent to human perception from particle vibrations in one’s senses to neural vibrations in one’s brain. Across a range of scales in lived experience, moreover, viewers and buildings were frequently in motion; people walked through built spaces, interiors contained portable furnishings, and travelers and prints circulated ideas of buildings internationally.

This conference seeks to examine the range of scales, media, and theoretical discussions which foreground early modern intersections of architecture and motion. In so doing, it both puts into motion the usually static viewer and building of historical narratives and merges often independent yet overlapping strands of analysis – for instance, the ‘mobile viewer’ studied by art historians Michael Baxandall and Svetlana Alpers and the tensions surrounding early modern globalization discussed by cultural historians. These and other strands of inquiry are brought together by an international, interdisciplinary group of speakers examining case studies encompassing England, France, Italy, German-speaking areas, and the New World during the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries.

Speakers include: James Campbell (University of Cambridge), Andrew Chen (University of Cambridge), Donal Cooper (University of Cambridge), Stefano Cracolici (Durham University), Daniel Jütte (New York University/University of Cambridge), Emily Mann (University of Kent), Kimberley Skelton (Durham University), Allison Stielau (University College London), Edmund Thomas (Durham University), Rebecca Tropp (University of Cambridge), Caroline van Eck (University of Cambridge), Bram Van Oostveldt (Amsterdam University/Leiden University).

Contact kimberley.c.skelton@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.