Essays on Literature and Architecture
Topics include the building of imaginary spaces, such as the architectural models of comic book worlds created by the cartoonist Seth and the Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, which is both novel and building. Real architectural spaces are recontextualized through literature: reading the work of Louis Kahn through his personal library and envisioning the writing haven of James Baldwin through his novels. Another approach links literary style with architectural form, as in the work of the New York School poets, who reformulate the built environment on the page. Architectural landmarks like Robert Stevenson’s Roundhouse (1847), Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition and the 2012 Olympic Park are reconsidered as counter-narratives of postcolonialism and empire, and the New York skyline is examined alongside literature and visual culture.
This collection demonstrates the reciprocal exchange that exists between the disciplines of literature and architecture and promotes new ways of understanding these interactions.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Illustrations
- Part I Urban Landscapes: Text and Image
- Tall Stories: New York Skyscrapers in Art and Literature
- Comics and the Architecture of Nostalgia: Seth’s Dominion City
- Part II Architecture as National Literary Event
- Crystallizing Visions: Glass Architecture in Utopian Literature before and after 1851
- To the Roundhouse: Returning London Psychogeography
- Literature and Distraction: Poetic Inscription at the 2012 London Olympics and the 1951 Festival of Britain
- Part III Textual Spaces / Spatial Texts
- Louis Kahn’s Translation of the Fairy Tale: A Study in Literary-Architectural Interaction
- Representation, Refuse and the Urban Context in Orhan Pamuk’s Museum(s) of Innocence
- The Tower of Babel: Concrete Poetry and Architecture in Britain and Beyond
- Part IV Reading the Domestic Interior
- ‘Room in the room that you room in?’: Ted Berrigan’s Structures
- No House in the World for James Baldwin: Reading Transnational Black Queer Domesticity in St Paul-de-Vence
- Notes on Contributors
- Series Index
TERRI MULLHOLLAND AND NICOLE SIERRA
Comics and the Architecture of Nostalgia: Seth’s Dominion City
Crystallizing Visions: Glass Architecture in Utopian Literature before and after 1851
To the Roundhouse: Returning London Psychogeography
Literature and Distraction: Poetic Inscription at the 2012 London Olympics and the 1951 Festival of Britain
Louis Kahn’s Translation of the Fairy Tale: A Study in Literary-Architectural Interaction
Representation, Refuse and the Urban Context in Orhan Pamuk’s Museum(s) of Innocence
The Tower of Babel: Concrete Poetry and Architecture in Britain and Beyond
‘Room in the room that you room in?’: Ted Berrigan’s Structures
No House in the World for James Baldwin: Reading Transnational Black Queer Domesticity in St Paul-de-Vence
Figure 1.1: St Cross Building, Manor Road, University of Oxford, by Leslie Martin and Colin St John Wilson, 1964. Courtesy of Bodleian Law Library.
On a June day, researchers from the fields of literature and architecture gathered in a Grade II* listed example of mid-century modernism for a conference. The St Cross building was designed to house the University of Oxford Faculties of Economics and Statistics, Law, and English Language and Literature by Sir Leslie Martin (of Royal Festival Hall fame) and Colin St John (‘Sandy’) Wilson (best known for the new British Library). Devised in the mid-1950s and completed in 1964, the building was intended for interdisciplinarity, the idea being that the gallery outside the lecture theatre was to act as a central meeting place, where scholars from economics, law and English would share space and formulate relationships. This attempt at an interdisciplinary hub failed. Rapidly each department developed its ← 1 | 2 → own entrance and its own areas within the building as each Faculty became more insular. Our conference was another attempt to bring diverse disciplines together in this fertile space. While we cannot claim to have solved the problems of interdisciplinarity on one summer’s day, it did result in us commissioning the exciting collection gathered here.
We imagined this as a discursive exchange with literature and architecture ‘speaking’ to each other. The four principal themes that emerged from this approach are: representation, discourse and language, formal comparisons (i.e. can a text be formally structured like a building and vice versa) and finally influence and inspiration. Our authors consider the connections, movements and paradoxes between literature and architecture in relation to particular writers, to literary and architectural texts as well as in relation to architectural theory and practice. The concern of this collection is to reveal the creative potential when literature and architecture meet. Throughout these essays there is an ongoing engagement with the wider links between the social and cultural relationships engendered by these debates. Architecture is more than just buildings, attendant furniture, and drawings, just as literature is more than just novels and poetry. Our hope is that this collection contributes to an ongoing conversation about interart studies; it is by no means the final word.
The book is divided into four distinct thematic units, which all draw together in a productive theoretical debate between literature and architecture. Discussions are balanced between urban and domestic, public and private. The essays are organized around the following four themes: ‘Urban Landscapes: Text and Image’, ‘Architecture as National Literary Event’, ‘Textual Spaces / Spatial Texts’ and ‘Reading the Domestic Interior’.
The first section ‘Urban Landscapes: Text and Image’ offers a new consideration of built landscapes as represented in fictional worlds. The two essays critically explore how text and image work together to create ‘literary architecture’. Focusing on the representative challenges of narrating built space, this section considers unexplored aspects of the urban. The first essay by Douglas Tallack explores the evolving role of New York skyscrapers in the novels of Henry James and Don DeLillo, alongside the developments in the visual arts. Tallack considers how writers have sought variously to respond to the challenge which the emerging and complex ← 2 | 3 → high-rise visuality of New York City has levelled at formal aspects of fiction, notably perspective and narrative. The next essay by Julian Ferraro goes on to consider the imaginary drawn landscape of a Canadian city in comic book fiction, focusing on the work of the cartoonist Seth (Gregory Gallant) who created three-dimensional architectural models of the significant buildings of a fictional town. Seth then incorporated photographs of these models into his texts to provide memorializing simulacra of the comic book originals.
In the second section ‘Architecture as National Literary Event’ the reader is taken through a series of British case studies that demonstrate the long-standing relationship between architectural structures and literature in ‘staging’ and creating event space. It opens with Nathaniel Robert Walker’s essay about the influence of the Crystal Palace on subsequent utopian aspirations in literature and architecture. Lisa Mullen explores the creation of visionary architecture through literary texts further in an essay on the Festival of Britain and the London 2012 Olympics. Connecting these essays is Henderson Downing’s consideration of the London Roundhouse as a notable hub for performing psychogeographical space. The aim of the section is to identify counter-narratives of identity, postcolonialism and empire through a reading of these event spaces.
- X, 264
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2015 (December)
- space literature graphic novels poetry architectural landmarks Orhan Pamuk James Baldwin Louis Kahn New York School architecture world building Great Exhibition
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2015. X, 264 pp., 14 coloured ill., 14 b/w ill.