The New Isfahan: Architecture, Urbanism, and City Experience in Safavid Iran, 1590-1722
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CitationEmami, Farshid. 2017. The New Isfahan: Architecture, Urbanism, and City Experience in Safavid Iran, 1590-1722. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation offers a new interpretation of urbanism and architecture in Safavid Isfahan through the analytical lens of city experience. A cosmopolitan metropolis of early modern Eurasia and the royal seat of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722), Isfahan and its monuments have primarily been studied in terms of imperial patronage and patterns of architectural production. Through an integrative analysis of the urban structure of seventeenth-century Isfahan and a corpus of literary sources that deal with its spaces, the dissertation examines the ways in which the city—with its grand plaza, promenades, coffeehouses, gardens, and cosmopolitan markets—structured the experience of contemporary visitors, engendered novel modes of perceiving and imagining the built environment, and shaped its inhabitants’ perceptions of their selves. At the core of the inquiry is the concept of “city experience.” Through this conceptual framework, the dissertation examines how the city laid out as an objective reality—an abstract representation of imperial order—was perceived and animated through subjective encounters. The dissertation particularly draws on a corpus of Persian-language literary works produced about Isfahan in the mid-1600s. These sources not only complement European travel narratives and court chronicles as an untapped quarry of topographical and historical information, but also allow us to better appreciate perceptual aspects of architecture and urbanism. On the whole, the literary works are indicative of the formation of a discourse on the city stemming from its novel physical structure and social content. On the other hand, to analyze city experience in its totality, it is essential to bring the urban layout of Isfahan into sharper focus. Pieced together from a diverse set of visual and textual sources, the result is a holistic appreciation of the built environment, one that shows how Safavid Isfahan was perceived visually through aesthetic encounters and experientially through social habits and behaviors.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42061509
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