Urban Studies beyond the Aestheticized Object

RSA 2017 Chicago

Chicago, The Palmer House Hilton, 30 March–1 April 2017

Sponsored by the European Architectural History Network

Traditionally, urban historians relied on systems and patterns to analyze cities as aesthetic constructions, parsing them in terms of morphologies and typologies. Eventually, however, cities began to be considered as embodiments and instruments of culture that communicated individual and collective identities and relationships. More recently, urban geographers, anthropologists, and theorists have modeled approaches that consider spatialized experience through the senses and body, and some envision the built realm as “more than a backdrop for action, becoming the action itself” (Bernard Tschumi, Disjunction and Architecture).

We invite papers that propose new approaches to and readings of the experiential and sensory in respect to the early modern city. How was the city’s physical fabric experienced and perceived by locals as well as foreign travellers?  Which rhythms (e.g., day/night, canonical hours) defined movements of bodies through and individual experiences of the city?  How did the sensory, (e.g., concepts of hygiene and public health), guide city planning and construction? The presence of “others” in the city, whether animals, foreigners, the sick, or minority populations, might also be considered. Speakers are welcome to discuss new methodologies or techniques for studying urban history (e.g., digital mapping and visualization).

Proposals should be submitted to Saundra Weddle (sweddle@drury.edu) and Elizabeth Merrill (elizabethmerrill11@gmail.com) by June 4, 2016 with the presenter’s full name; academic affiliation/title; e-mail address; paper title (15-word maximum); abstract (150-word maximum); and a brief curriculum vitae (300-word maximum; prose bios will not be accepted).

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