Narrating the Globe: The Emergency of World Histories of Architecture
Petra Brouwer, Martin Bressani, Christopher Drew Armstrong (Eds)
The MIT Press, 2023
How notions of progress, beauty, and cultural superiority structured the genre of nineteenth-century world histories of architecture—and shaped the discipline as we know it today.
The nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new genre of architectural writing: the grand history of world architecture. This genre often expressed a deeply Eurocentric worldview, largely dismissing non-Western architecture through narratives of historical progress and stylistic beauty. Yet even as nineteenth-century historians worked to construct an exclusive architectural canon, they were engaged in constant debate over its categories and constraints. Narrating the Globe traces the emergence of this historical canon, exposing the questions and problems that prompted the canon’s very formation.
Bringing together architectural historians from around the world, this collection of essays—the first comprehensive examination of the nineteenth-century architectural history survey as a literary genre—includes overviews of the origins and legacy of the global architecture survey genre, as well as close examinations of key works, including books by lesser-known but intriguing authors such as Louisa C. Tuthill, Christian L. Stieglitz, and Daniel Ramée, and the more famous surveys by James Fergusson, Franz Kugler, Banister Fletcher, and Auguste Choisy. Narrating the Globe is an illuminating read for anyone interested in architectural history’s long, complex, and often tendentious trajectory.