At the Threshold of the Mediterranean: Architecture, Urbanism, and Identity in Early Modern Sicily
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Kassler-Taub, Elizabeth A.
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CitationKassler-Taub, Elizabeth A. 2017. At the Threshold of the Mediterranean: Architecture, Urbanism, and Identity in Early Modern Sicily. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation looks anew at the architectural and urban development of early modern Sicily under the aegis of the Spanish Habsburg Empire with a focus on the transformation of the port city of Palermo into a viceregal capital over the course of the sixteenth century. It demonstrates that itinerant architects dispatched to the island not only assimilated idioms and innovations originating in Italian and Iberian centers, but openly experimented with models and typologies then in circulation across a wider geography, from the eastern colonies of the Venetian 'stato da mar' to Ottoman outposts along the coastline of North Africa. Against this backdrop, this dissertation proposes that Sicily was an active participant in the architectural culture of the early modern Mediterranean world. In doing so, it seeks to chart a new methodology for the study of the built environment of sixteenth-century Sicily, which continues to be marginalized in scholarship on the architectural history of early modern Italy and Spain alike.
The text focuses upon four primary case studies: first, large-scale urban planning initiatives; second, the patronage of foreign mercantile communities; third, fortification design; and finally, landscape interventions. Throughout, it questions how local identity – understood geographically, culturally, and architecturally – was constructed on the island. More broadly, it argues that Sicily offers a rare opportunity to rethink both the underpinnings of the Italian Renaissance canon and contemporary theorizations of early modern exchange and cross-culturalism. Finally, in response to a rising interest in Spain’s expanding geographical boundaries in the Mediterranean and beyond, this dissertation reassesses Sicily’s unique position within the landscape of so-called ‘Spanish Italy,’ and raises new questions as to how Spanish imperialism was performed, experienced, and ultimately assimilated on Italian shores.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140264
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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