Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century

Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century

Published Dec. 2021 by the University of Pittsburgh Press

What kinds of evidence does architectural history use? How is this evidence organized in different narratives and toward what ends? What might this tell us about disciplinary and institutional positions? And, how can consideration of evidence and narrative help us reimagine the limits and the potentials of the field? These are some of the questions addressed in Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century, forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in December 2021. In this spirit, we asked the twenty-three contributors both to share their specific researches, from the medieval to the present around the world, and to consider broader questions of their modus operandi—the kinds of evidence they rely on and the tactics that they use for weaving that evidence into narratives. Examining the field’s claims to knowledge may help sharpen the specificity of our analyses and engage critically in the present, while opening new explorations in writing architectural history.


Introduction: Evidence, Narrative, and Writing Architectural History • Daniel M. Abramson, Zeynep Çelik Alexander, and Michael Osman for Aggregate

Part I: Legends

Chapter 1 • The Fires of Saint-Domingue, or, Landscapes of the Haitian Revolution • Peter Minosh

Chapter 2 • Known Unknowns: The Documentary History of the Franklin Ghost House • Edward Eigen

Chapter 3 • Vacuum Suction Conveyance, Part II • Meredith TenHoor

Part II: Self-Evidence

Chapter 4 • Talkative Timbers: A. E. Douglass, the Beam Expeditions, and the Construction of Architectural Evidence • Albert Narath

Chapter 5 • Concrete Is One Hundred Years Old: The Carbonation Equation and Narratives of Anthropogenic Change • Lucia Allais and Forrest Meggers

Chapter 6 • Medieval and Renaissance Money: On Trial, On Architecture • Lauren Jacobi

Part III: Data

Chapter 7 • From Truth to Proof: Friedrich Adler’s Medieval Brick Architecture of the Prussian StatesLaila Seewang

Chapter 8 • The Banister Fletchers’ Tabulations • Zeynep Çelik Alexander and Michael Osman

Chapter 9 • Evidence and Narrative in Digital Art History: Exploratory Methods for Weimar Architecture • Paul B. Jaskot and Ivo van der Graaff

Part IV: Pairings

Chapter 10 • Comparative Architecture and Its Discontents • Roy Kozlovsky

Chapter 11 • When Baghdad Was Like Warsaw: Comparison in the Cold War • Łukasz Stanek

Chapter 12 • Forensic Architecture as Symptom • Andrew Herscher

Chapter 13 • Architectural History after Sebald’s Austerlitz: A Squirrel’s Hoard, a Curved Road • Daniel M. Abramson

Part V: Testimony

Chapter 14 • Failing Memories and Forgotten Histories: The Dispute over the Venetian Church of San Giobbe • Janna Israel

Chapter 15 • Settling Imaginations: Between Dust and Silt • Ijlal Muzaffar

Chapter 16 • Dadaab Is a Place on Earth: Land and the Migrant Archive • Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Chapter 17 • Learning from Johannesburg: Unpacking Denise Scott Brown’s South African View of Las Vegas • Ayala Levin

Part VI: Retrials

Chapter 18 • Architectural Narratives of Habeas Corpus on the High Seas: Charles Frederick Lees versus the Crown • Lisa Haber-Thomson

Chapter 19 • “This Whole Maze of Evidence”: Revisiting Professionalism and Property through Hunt v. Parmly” • Erik Carver

Chapter 20 • “Striking and Imposing Beauty”: On the Evidence of Aesthetic Valuation • Timothy Hyde