CFP: Society of Architectural Historians (Glasgow, June 2017)

Society of Architectural Historians
2017 Annual International Conference
June 7-11 | Glasgow, Scotland


Deadline: June 6, 2016

Conference Chair: Sandy Isenstadt, SAH 1st Vice President-elect, University of Delaware

The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, June 7–11. Please submit an abstract no later than June 6, 2016, to one of the 32 thematic sessions, the Graduate Student Lightning Talks or the open sessions. The thematic sessions have been selected to cover topics across all time periods and architectural styles. SAH encourages submissions from architectural, landscape, and urban historians; museum curators; preservationists; independent scholars; architects; and members of SAH chapters and partner organizations.

Thematic sessions and Graduate Student Lightning Talks are listed below. Please note that those submitting papers for the Graduate Student Lightning Talks must be graduate students at the time the talk is being delivered (June 7–11, 2017). Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Instructions and deadlines for submitting to themed sessions and open sessions are the same.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Abstracts must be under 300 words.
  2. The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  3. Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
  4. Only one abstract per conference by author or co-author may be submitted.
  5. A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted.

Abstracts are to be submitted online using the link below.


Abstracts should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive, rather than descriptive in nature. Papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public except to a small, local audience (under 100 people). All abstracts will be held in confidence during the review and selection process, and only the session chair and general chair will have access to them.

All session chairs have the prerogative to recommend changes to the abstract in order to ensure it addresses the session theme, and to suggest editorial revisions to a paper in order to make it satisfy session guidelines. It is the responsibility of the session chairs to inform speakers of those guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for participation in the session and the annual conference. Session chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper from the program if the author has not complied with those guidelines.

Please Note: Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own travel and expenses to Glasgow, Scotland. SAH has a limited number of partial conference fellowships for which speakers may apply. However, SAH’s funding is not sufficient to support the expenses of all speakers. Each speaker and session chair must register and establish membership in SAH for the 2017 conference by August 31, 2016, and are required to pay the non-refundable conference registration fee to show their commitment.


June 6, 2016 Deadline for submitting abstracts
July 15, 2016 Session chairs notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals
August 1, 2016 Annual conference fellowship applications open
August 31, 2016 Deadline for speaker and session chair registration (non-refundable) and membership in SAH
September 7, 2016 Deadline for conference fellowship applications
January 9, 2017 Speakers submit complete drafts of papers to session chairs
February 10, 2017 Session chairs return papers with comments to speakers
April 3, 2017 Speakers complete any revisions and distribute copies of their paper to the session chair and the other session speakers

Some sessions of possible interest to our readers:

Architectural Ghosts
This session explores the concept of the ghostly in architecture. While the “ghost” in architecture might refer to actual haunted places, it also refers to the unfinished, the remnant, the referenced, the remembered, and the ruined. How, when, and where do we find and interpret the ghostly in architecture? Whether it be the flicker of spatial remembrance like a passing sense of cold, the palimpsest of a former window on a solid brick wall, or a crumbling foundation overgrown in the woods—spirits, souls, traces, and the spaces in between abound in our experience of, and critical approaches to, architecture and its histories. The ghostly can complicate ideas about originality, temporality, authenticity, and the sacred. It may imply a process of design that could linger in uncanny twilight between the conscious and the unconscious. Moreover, might architectural ghostliness lure us towards nostalgia, utopia, and imagined histories? Architects haunted by various histories may be caught up in the ghostly too: the spectres of lost opportunities or ruined spaces, and, significantly, the persistent power of the past. The concept of the architectural phantom could equally imply spaces of the ephemeral—opening up possibilities of the architectural image in visual culture or performative practices. What can writers—from ancient dramas to gothic tales to modern critical theory—offer to the study of the ghostly in design? We are interested in papers that explore any aspect of the architectural ghost: the unfinished project, the troubled biography, the voices of the memorialized in monuments or crypts, the fragment and its imagined completion, or any case study or theoretical paradigm in which architectural apparitions, residues, shadows or wraiths might be found.

Session Chairs: Karen Koehler, Hampshire College, and Ayla Lepine, University of Essex

Medieval Vernacular Architecture
Scholarly interest in vernacular architecture has gained increased traction in the past few decades. As the editors of the 2005 volume Vernacular Architecture in the Twenty-First Century noted, vernacular architecture no longer is understood solely as domestic architecture, rural architecture, or architecture built by romanticized non-professionals—in other words a product counterpoint to “polite” building—but as a cultural process specific to a location, whether rural or urban, or to a people that reveals how builders within that group engage with ecological, technological, and cultural variables. In the same vein, in his 2010 book English Houses: 1300–1800, the archaeologist Matthew Johnson argued that vernacular architecture is an anthropological style, one in which a people, their histories, and priorities can be read through the building form.  Much work on vernacular architecture focuses on building from the twentieth century through the present..

This session seeks papers that address the study of buildings through the lens of the vernacular from the Middle Ages, defined roughly as the fifth through fifteenth centuries. Subjects are welcome from any part of the world and may include studies of domestic spaces, but in the aim of expanding the definition(s) of vernacular architecture, in particular so that its study can engage with other disciplines, the session encourages papers with anthropologic understandings of the vernacular that examine relationships, specific to an area or group, between builders, patrons, and their surrounding environments that contributed to cultural continuity. As such, this session is interested particularly in papers that address construction processes, lived experience, workshop practices, material and environmental analyses, and the impact of regional integration on local building within specific cultural, social, and historical environments, whether urban or rural, “polite” or domestic. In addition, papers that employ or discuss new technologies for analyzing medieval vernacular buildings are welcome.

Session Chair: Alexander Harper, Princeton University

Questions of Scale: Micro-architecture in the Global Middle Ages
This session seeks to expand worldwide a productive discourse that has engaged historians of Gothic architecture for at least forty years: the interplay of design ideas across the macro- and micro-architectural realms. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries small-scale shrines and sacrament houses looked increasingly like monumental Gothic churches with pointed arches and flying buttresses. Soon, choir stalls and tabernacles became design laboratories that germinated formal ideas for full-sized structures arrayed with intricate niches or encrusted with delicate tracery. Moreover, recent scholarship by Sarah Guérin, Achim Timmermann, and Paul Binski has shown this interplay of forms provided more than formal ideas; smaller works of art, like ivory diptychs and pulpit canopies, could deploy the architectural features of churches and castles to project spiritual meanings.

This conversation should not be limited to medieval Europe. Micro-architecture featured in many design traditions and material cultures around the world during these years. At small scale, canopies with amalakas often sheltered sculptures of Hindu gods in the same manner as the gables and finials crowned statues of the Virgin and Child. Somewhat larger Chinese sutra cabinets for storing Buddhist scriptures were often built as octagonal pavilions, a form specified by the Song Dynasty text Yingzao fashi. They pre-date the Gothic sacrament houses mentioned above and parallel them in purpose and sophistication. At the monumental level, Goethe’s delight in the “great harmonious masses [of Strasbourg Cathedral], quickened into numberless parts” could equally apply to the temples of Khajuraho, where lofty sikharas rise as recursive compositions of miniaturized towers, or urushringas. In Islamic architecture muqarnas serve an opposite function; the tiny half-dome ornaments dematerialize their larger vaults. This session invites papers that address one or more case studies of micro-architecture from 300–1600 CE at any scale, from anywhere in the world, and in any media.

Session Chair: Jeffrey A. K. Miller, University of Cambridge

Rethinking Medieval Rome: Architecture and Urbanism

This session seeks to assess the impact of recent methodological developments on the study of the architecture and urban forms of the city of Rome from the end of the Gothic War (ca. 554) to the re-establishment of the papacy under Pope Martin V (ca. 1420). In the past decade the medieval humanities have opened up new perspectives on the past by focusing on questions of materiality, agency, temporality, spatiality, cross-cultural interaction, and ecocriticism. These new approaches, many of which are informed by interdisciplinary research and contemporary cultural interests in the natural and built world, are fundamentally reshaping how we conceive of and study medieval architecture and urbanism. This panel will examine how new methodologies and theoretically informed approaches are changing our understanding of the architecture of medieval Rome. The city of Rome has long occupied a particular place in scholarly narratives as the seat of the papacy, as a destination for pilgrims, and as a mythical symbol of past grandeur and decline. Historians of Rome’s medieval architecture and urban fabric have traditionally focused on such issues as the distinctively retrospective character of the city’s basilicas, the relationship between architecture and liturgy, the reuse of ancient materials, the topographical distinctions between the city’s inhabited and uninhabited regions, or the polemical character of Rome’s baronial tower houses. This session inquires into the current status of medieval Rome, both within the field of architectural history and in relation to the broader discourses of the medieval humanities. We invite contributions from architects, architectural historians, and scholars in allied fields whose work charts new avenues for rethinking the history of medieval Rome’s built environment through novel questions, through innovative methodological and technological approaches, by presenting new evidence, or by means of critical revisions of existing scholarly narratives.

Session Chairs: Marius B. Hauknes, Johns Hopkins University, and Alison Locke Perchuk, California State University Channel Islands

Published by Meg Bernstein

Meg Bernstein is a PhD candidate in Art History at UCLA. Her thesis examines the architecture of the English parish church in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: