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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2010

Charles Burroughs
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Binghamton
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Summary

In any academic book, a preface is expected, requiring an author to announce and even defend the ensuing text with a certain degree of self-consciousness. This is especially so in the present case, for this book is dedicated to the historical moment in which such an expectation arose, and the genealogy of the literary preface is intimately related to that of the architectural facade. In a sense, indeed, this book is itself preface, or at least prolegomenon. Others are better qualified than I to analyze the facade as a design project or task; I have sought to address puzzles that pressed into my consciousness whenever I turned my attention to Renaissance architecture, a built world in which the facade was a conspicuous element, yet in some ways also a highly obscure one.

The book is less a forensic performance, therefore, than a many-tracked exploration. Nevertheless, certain convictions are crucial in my approach. First, departing from the familiar preoccupation with Renaissance architecture as fundamentally mimetic, i.e., defined by its emulation of “antiquity,” I return the focus to the social milieu and to practices of assigning and locating meaning evident within it. Second, I adopt a skeptical attitude to unilinear and downward (i.e., “trickle-down”) paradigms of the transmission of culture, preferring to privilege evidence for relatively dialogic and dynamic processes. Third, I am interested in a wider standard of evidentiality than is often accepted in scholarly work on the built environment (though architectural historians have been known to venture opinions on the social and cultural meanings of their objects of study on the basis of relatively exclusive consideration of those objects themselves).

Type
Chapter
Information
The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
Structures of Authority, Surfaces of Sense
, pp. xvii - xx
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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  • Preface
  • Charles Burroughs, State University of New York, Binghamton
  • Book: The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
  • Online publication: 17 March 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666568.001
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  • Preface
  • Charles Burroughs, State University of New York, Binghamton
  • Book: The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
  • Online publication: 17 March 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666568.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Charles Burroughs, State University of New York, Binghamton
  • Book: The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
  • Online publication: 17 March 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666568.001
Available formats
×