Conference: Early Modern Viewers and Buildings in Motion. University of Cambridge, St. John’s College, Old Divinity School, February 25, 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 actual lived experience, moreover, viewers and buildings were frequently in motion; people walked through built spaces, interiors contained portable furnishings, and travellers 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.

Registration deadline: 12 February 2017

The full programme of the conference can be dowloaded here.

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