Elizabethan Architecture: a View from Rhetoric
|Published in:||Architectural History, 2014, v. 57|
‘Remember the impression one gets from good architecture, that it expresses a thought.' Wittgenstein's prompt to himself comes to mind when, in looking at Elizabethan buildings today accepted as ‘good architecture', we ask, but what is the thought? The thinking behind prodigy houses and their lodges is not easy to discern; it has to be addressed indirectly because the Elizabethans left no statements about their architectural intentions. But it is useful to look at discourses adjacent to architecture. Of these, rhetoric, the ancient art of persuasion, is one of the most significant. ‘Rhetoric and architecture', writes the historian of memory, Mary Carruthers, ‘have had a venerable dialogue'. This essay argues that such a dialogue exists in the minds of the Elizabethan patron-builders, at various levels of consciousness. New ideas meet with, and in turn are shaped by, an education in which rhetoric has played a significant role.
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