Events And Opportunities

Mediating Architecture and its Audiences: the Architectural Critic

This session, to be held at the 5th European Architectural History Network (EAHN) Conference, in Tallinn, Estonia, June 13-16, 2018, interrogates the emergence of architectural criticism as a key site for the production, circulation, and transformation of architectural ideas and practices in the twentieth century. Abstracts are due by September 30, 2017.

Responsible for bringing architecture into public discourse, architectural critics like Montgomery Schuyler, Lewis Mumford, Nikolaus Pevsner, John Summerson, Catherine Bauer, Jane Jacobs, Bruno Zevi, Ada-Louise Huxtable, and François Chaslin – to mention a few names of global significance – had transformative effects on the field. Each engaged a remarkable diversity of practices including historical scholarship and preservation advocacy, becoming leaders in cultivating public opinion and in fostering a resemantization of the relationship between the built and the textual. In many ways their practices were divergent, yet together they articulate the often overlooked gaps between the built, the projective, and the public.

The investigation examines these transformative, yet little-studied figures, querying their historical role in the development of new audiences for architecture, their impact on the development of architectural journalism as a field distinct from the academy, and their influence on contemporaneous architectural practice. The session has potentially important ramifications for the history of architecture, cultural history, and histories of media. There is little existing scholarly literature on the topic, though recent research projects have begun to address the issue.

The chairs encourage non-biographical and non-descriptive approaches to the topic, instead inviting scholars, architects, and critics to respond to historically specific questions such as:
• How did the role of the architectural critic emerge, transform, and come to be highly specialized over the course of the twentieth century?
• How has criticism adapted to its many media forms or engaged media systems beyond the textual?
• What types of audiences does criticism engage or produce?
• What historical relationships have criticism and journalism had with building practices and with scholarly production?
• How does architectural journalism relate to political structures and institutions? What role has censorship played? How might we account for histories of repression of the architectural press?
• What role does criticism play in non-Western contexts?
• How have the dictates of journalism run counter to those of criticism? Where has the friction between criticism as an ethic or as an esthetic become apparent?
• What becomes of the critic as the object of critique?
• How has architectural criticism been treated historiographically, and what kinds of historiography might emerge from scholarly attention to architectural criticism?
• What does it mean to make historical evidence of criticism?

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted directly to Maristella Casciato ( and Gary Fox ( by 30 September 2017. Please include your name, affiliation, title of paper, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance or rejection no later than 31 October 2017.
SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
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