CfP: Construction Techniques and Writings on Architecture in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe. Opus Incertum

Call for Papers: Construction Techniques and Writings on Architecture in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe. Opus Incertum

The 2020 issue of the journal Opus Incertum (Florence University Press) aims to examine, through selected case studies, the complex relationship between construction practices and architectural writings in early modern Europe.
Although the literature on architectural treatises is vast, the complicated connections between the written page on the one hand and the building site on the other have received comparatively little attention. Situated at the crossroads of several disciplines (architectural history, history of science and technology, history of literature), the subject can be approached from different perspectives. To begin with, confrontations of texts on construction techniques with the material realities of extant buildings may reveal, for specific contexts, to what extent these texts operated as vehicles for the transmission of technical know-how, and how much weight they gave to topoi borrowed from ancient authors. Furthermore, analyses of the rhetorical and literary aspects of technical writings may help to contextualize technical passages on construction, assessing their relevance within the larger structure of the treatise as well as in the eyes of contemporaries. The latter aspect can also be elucidated by looking at the various translations, adaptations, and cuts which the Italian treatises underwent while circulating across Europe. Further epistemological questions are raised by considering how supposedly oral building traditions were confronted with writing and how their time-honoured conventions were adapted to theoretical frameworks. Another problem concerns the role of drawing in support of writing for the transmission of technical knowledge.
This thematic issue will bring together new contributions and a number of papers first presented at the conference “Building techniques in writings on architecture between Italy, France and the Low Countries (16th – early 18th century)”, held in Brussels and Namur in February 2015. We welcome proposals from other geographical contexts and from related disciplines and are open to approaches that differ from those briefly indicated here.
Please submit your abstract to the journal’s chief editor Gianluca Belli ( by 5 January 2019.
Guest editors: Caterina Cardamone and Pieter Martens.
The CfP can be accessed here or downloaded.

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