Event Date: 

Dissertation Proposal Defense: Tairan An

Posted By: 


You are cordially invited to attend

the Dissertation Proposal Defense of Tairan An


The Architectural Erratic: 

Anomalies, Anachronisms, and other Instabilities of Nineteenth-century Italy


To be held on

Monday, January 25, 2021

11:00 a.m. EST on Zoom


E-mail soaprograms@princeton.edu for the link.


Abstract: With carefully selected case studies from nineteenth-century Italy, this dissertation contributes to the destabilization of conventional architectural historiographies in ways that have been informed by the slow yet steady substitution of teleologies with the less straightforward temporalities of the earth. Geologists use the word “erratic” to characterize detached blocks of rock transported to alien places by the glacial movements of a distant past. This dissertation propels the concept of the erratic to disengage from its glaciological association and let it drift southward. It puts forward the idea of the architectural erratic to indicate the spatial and temporal instabilities induced by seismic, volcanic, fluvial, and arboreal processes, threading a way from the errata to the erratic, that is, from the use and abuse of books as (unsuccessful) stabilizers of architectural knowledge to the more fluid and unpredictable terrestrial agents and their architectural mediations. As demonstrations, the case studies assimilate the anomalous movements at issue, and adopt the notion of temporal instability as a historiographical postulate. The dissertation has recourse to nineteenth-century Italy—where historicism pervaded and the “backwardness” of the south was problematized—as a testing ground for an anachronistic architectural historiography.


Committee Members:

Sylvia Lavin (advisor)

Beatriz Colomina

Kurt W. Forster

Alexander Nagel, Craig Hugh Smyth Professor of Fine Arts, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Philip Ursprung, Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, The Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zürich