Architecture and/in Literature: Decentering the Figure of the Architect


Friday, March 29, 2024
12:00–1:30 PM CST
Via Zoom


This roundtable invites scholars to share their recent findings on architecture and/in literature. As the field of architectural history wrestles with its own biases and narrowness, cultural objects on the built environment emerging at the margins of architecture as a discipline are more methodologically pertinent than ever. Expanding upon current efforts to challenge the centrality of architects as the main protagonists of architectural history, this roundtable posits literature as a critical source for the inclusion of various voices and perspectives in architectural history. Can examinations of architecture in literature redistribute discursive agency to builders, clients, residents, users, and eyewitnesses as literary and historical protagonists? As we prioritize literary sources over the intentionality of architects, can we identify patterns in new modes of evidence? At its core, this roundtable will foster a discussion on the methodological value of interdisciplinarity for improved inclusivity in architectural scholarship. Topics under discussion will include the architectural historian as a protagonist in W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, architectural absence in Albert Camus’ “La Maison Mauresque,” architectural manifestos in Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, and urban atmospheres in Ella Hepworth Dixon’s The Story of a Modern Woman.



Daniel Abramson

Daniel M. Abramson is professor of architectural history at Boston University and a director of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, presently at the Institute of Advanced Study (Princeton) researching American government centers.

Jacobe Huet

Jacobé Huet is assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Huet is completing the manuscript for her first book, a reciprocal history of the white cube as a vernacular-modernist motif in the colonial and postcolonial Mediterranean. 

Peter L'Official

Peter L’Official is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the American & Indigenous Studies Program at Bard College. His book, Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin, was published by Harvard University Press in 2020.


Cigdem Talu is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at McGill University. Her dissertation focuses on women's writing and urban experience in late-nineteenth century London, urban atmospheres, and the history of emotions.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610