Versailles to the Visionaries

A course on architectural theory and achievement in France in the 17th and 18th centuries. While we will proceed chronologically from the reign of Louis XIV to the French Revolution of 1789, ours will be a selective as opposed to comprehensive approach to designs, edifices and treatises. The course will begin by addressing architecture as an emblematization of power. This ideological context will set the stage for the gradual expansion of architectural theory and its resulting discursive field, which moved beyond debate over the orders to include phenomenology (architecture\’s relation to the senses), historicism (or the origins of architectural form), and the environment (the cult of nature). Our aim throughout will be to explore the larger political and social contexts of architectural creation as well as the aesthetic controversies and philosophical perspectives that brought architecture to its revolutionary juncture at Enlightenment\’s end. Topics to be covered: the urban royal square, Versailles and the image of absolutism, Perrault\’s Louvre colonnade, the church dome from Hardouin-Mansart to Soufflot, Rococo interiors, the picturesque garden, Laugier\’s \”rustic hut,\” cemetery spaces and the architecture of death, visionary architects and the Sublime, the utopian city.