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Book Discussion: Carlo Ginzburg: History/Microhistories/Architectural Histories

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Carlo Ginzburg: History/Microhistories/Architectural Histories

Thursday, March 23, 6:00pm

Betts Auditorium

School of Architecture


On March 6, 2022, Yehuda Safran (Pratt Institute) and Daniel Sherer (Princeton SoA) interviewed Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg for Issue 5 of Potlatch journal, perhaps the most extensive and in-depth exchange ever given. From a broad spectrum of subjects, Ginzburg discusses key sources of his intellectual formation, the complex relation of art history, architectural history, and microhistory–convergences and divergences between historical, literary and cinematic narrative, and the reading of diverse types of evidence across disciplines. In an unusual moment of synthesis, the interview contains the only published discussion of Ginzburg’s intellectual and personal exchange with architectural theorist Manfredo Tafuri, focusing on the concepts of polycentric histories of architecture and microhistory. Nearly a year after the interview, Carlo Ginzburg: History/Microhistories/Architectural Histories brings together multiple scholars across disciplinary fields to discuss this seminal dialog and Ginzburg at large. 


Participants include Daniel Sherer (Visiting Faculty, History and Theory of Architecture, School of Architecture, Princeton University), Yehuda Safran (Critic; Adjunct Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, School of Architecture, Pratt Institute), Eva Del Soldato (Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Francophone, Italian And Germanic Studies, University of Pennsylvania), Francesca Trivellato (Andrew W. Mellon Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University), and Spyros Papapetros (Associate Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, School of Architecture, Princeton University).


This lecture is made possible by the Jean Labatut Memorial Lectures in Architecture and Urban Planning Fund and is co-sponsored by the Center for Collaborative History.


About the participants


Dr. Daniel Sherer teaches the history and theory of architecture at Princeton SoA. His areas of research include modern receptions of humanist architecture, Italian modernism with reference to the interaction of architecture, art, and design, Italian Renaissance and Baroque architecture, contemporary architecture, historiography and theory, and intersections between architecture and film. He has published widely in European and American journals including Artforum, AA Files, Assemblage, Journal of Architecture, Domus, JSAH, Log, and Perspecta, Potlatch and Zodiac. Dr. Sherer has taught at Columbia GSAPP, Yale School of Architecture, Cornell AAP, and Harvard GSD, and will be Visiting Professor of architectural history at the University of Venice (Iuav) this May. He curated the exhibition Aldo Rossi: The Architecture and Art of the Analogous City at Princeton SoA in 2018. Dr. Sherer studied with Carlo Ginzburg at the Università degli Studi di Bologna in 1983-84.


Yehuda Safran is an internationally renowned critic of Art and Architecture and teaches architecture history and theory at Pratt Institute. He studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art, the Royal College of Art, and University College, London and has also taught at many institutions, including the Architectural Association, Goldsmith’s College of Art, the Royal College of Art, Harvard University GSD, Cambridge, Columbia University GSAPP, Rhode Island School of Design, and Nanjing and Tongji Universities in Shanghai. He was a fellow of the Chicago Institute of Architecture and Urbanism.


Safran’s work has been featured in 9H, AA File, Sight and Sound (London), Lotus, Casabella, Domus, Abitare, The Plan, Proto-typo (Portugal), Metalocus (Spain), Springer, Springerin (Austria), and Paris Match (France), among others. Additional published work includes Mies Van Der Rohe (Lisbon Editorial Blau, 2000) and I have a Weakness for a Touch of Red: Essays on Art, Architecture, and Portugal (Zurich, Lars Muller, 2019). He also directed the Potlatch journal. His curatorial projects include The Architecture of Adolf Loos: An Arts Council Exhibition, and Frederick Kiesler at the Architectural Association in London. He was a consultant to Aldo Rossi: The Architecture and Art of the Analogous City at Princeton SoA and Curator of Adolf Loos: Our Contemporary at the CAAA Guimaraes (Portugal), MAK Vienna, Columbia GSAPP University Gallery, and Biblioteca Marciana (Venice).


Eva Del Soldato is an intellectual historian whose work focuses mainly on the reception of the Aristotelian and Platonic traditions in the early modern period. She is also interested in translation studies, particularly in the rise of the vernaculars as languages of elevated discourse, in the history of libraries and universities, and in manuscript studies. She is an Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Graduate Chair in Francophone, Italian And Germanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Executive Secretary of the American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS). Among her recent publications is the monograph Early Modern Aristotle. On the Making and Unmaking of Authority (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020) and the co-edited volume Harmony and Contrast. Plato and Aristotle in the Early Modern Period (Oxford University Press, 2022).


Francesca Trivellato is a leading historian of early modern Italy and continental Europe and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. She has made significant and groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the organization and culture of the marketplace in the pre-industrial world. Trivellato's original and imaginative research has revitalized the study of early economic history, and her influential work on cross-cultural trade intersects the fields of European, Jewish, Mediterranean, and global history, religion, and capitalism.


Spyros Papapetros is an Associate Professor of History and Theory at Princeton School of Architecture and a member of the executive committees of the programs in European Cultural Studies and Media and Modernity at Princeton University. He is the author of On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life (The University of Chicago Press, 2012) and the co-editor of Retracing the Expanded Field (The MIT Press, 2014). Forthcoming publications include the first edition of Frederick Kiesler’s Magic Architecture: The Story of Human Housing (The MIT Press) and Prearchitecture (Sternberg Press/Critical Spatial Practice).