Call for Papers: Virtue and Wonder: Magnificent Architecture in the Early Modern Period.

RSA 2018, New Orleans 22-24 March 2018

This session explores the transformations and adaptations of the classical notion of magnificence in the early modern period. Scholarly literature about magnificence and its role in architectural patronage has focused almost exclusively on “Magnificentia” as an Aristotelian virtue. Yet, the early modern discourses on magnificent architecture knew other traditions as well, regarding magnificence as a characteristic of the object (associated with wonder and luxury). In light of religious and political arguments, as well as aesthetic theories, lavish expenditure on buildings was associated with distinct and specific notions of “Magnificence.” On the one hand, these discourses continued to rely on “Magnificentia” as the virtuous act of patronage discussed in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. On the other hand, the political and religious adaptation of the discourse took an object-centered view, based upon effects of wonder and awe provoked by the magnificent building on its onlooker.

In this session, we invite contributions that explore the existence of distinct and sometimes contradictory notions of magnificence in the early modern period. We are particularly interested in understanding how and in what circumstances these different notions were implemented to defend and celebrate architectural patronage, and whether authors consciously turned to certain traditions, while ignoring others. Similarly, we would like to trace when and how magnificence was used as an aesthetic category, and what religious or political attributes were ascribed to magnificent buildings by patrons and architects.

Please submit proposals for 20-minute papers to the organizers Nele De Raedt (nele.deraedt@ugent.be) and Anne-Françoise Morel (annefrancoise.morel@kuleuven.be) by 30 may 2017. Please include:

  • Title (max 15 words)
  • Abstract (max 150 words)
  • A short biographical statement (max 250 words)
  • Author’s name, professional affiliation, and contact information.

This session is sponsored by the European Architectural History Network.

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