The Architect’s Knowledge: Imagining the Profession’s Historical Body, 1797-1883
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Norwood, Bryan E.
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CitationNorwood, Bryan E. 2018. The Architect’s Knowledge: Imagining the Profession’s Historical Body, 1797-1883. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractTo be a professional suggests that one authoritatively possesses a particular expertise and knows how to rightly use it. This dissertation explores architects’ intellectual and institutional quest in the Early American Republic to define the knowledge of architecture’s own history as a framework for the profession’s expertise and a way to delimit membership in the profession’s body. Through examinations of the first sustained attempts at writing and lecturing on architecture in cities along the Atlantic Coast, I show how the efforts to ground the profession in a recursive knowledge of its own past deeply intertwined architecture with institutional and intellectual issues of class, religion, and race. In particular, I argue that a Protestant ethno-nationalism informed the American architectural profession at its start. Situating building in the newly created American Republic as part of a unified and progressive world-historical narrative, the first theorists of architecture in the United States understood architectural practice to be a tool of statecraft and racecraft that had global implications. Looking at the teachings of Thomas U. Walter and the writings of Louisa C. Tuthill, I examine how a combination of Protestantism, Republican political philosophy, Scottish Enlightenment epistemology, and the aesthetics of associationist environmentalism were enlisted to shape the knowledge of architecture’s history. Professional architecture founded its orientation and expertise in the charge to imagine the United States as a classically- and divinely-directed nation, whose story was wrapped up in a grand narrative of the origins and purposes of humanity directed by millennial, eschatological hope.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121219
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