Structures of Feeling: Architecture and the Philosophy of Experience, 1690- 1800

Quadrant: Design, Architecture, and Culture

This interdisciplinary project considers the ways in which ideas about sense experience, derived from empiricist and sensationist epistemology, transformed conceptions of architecture and public space in eighteenth-century France, thereby informing new conceptions of architecture and the urban fabric as privileged sites—and means—of shaping subjective and social life. Exploring statements and images found in architectural treatises as well as in philosophical texts, literary works, and writings on urbanism, education, and social reform, this study reveals a wide-ranging concern in eighteenth-century France with the power of form and space over subjectivity. Moving beyond the well-known categories of the picturesque and the sublime, it considers the broader range of experience in Enlightenment architectural discourse, including discussions of sympathetic communication, perceptual phenomena and the limits of the senses, the spaces of libertine fiction, the language of sensation, and the mobilization of natural effects in architecture. The first full-length study of this significant aspect of early modern architectural thought, this project also seeks to establish a significant historical and theoretical precedent for the widespread turn to sensation and affect in architecture today.

University of Minnesota