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Three Romanesque Great Churches in Germany, France and England, and the Discipline of Architectural History

Medium: journal article
Language(s): English
Published in: Architectural History, , v. 54
Page(s): 1-22
DOI: 10.1017/s0066622x00003981

(This is the text of the SAFIGB Annual Lecture, delivered at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, on 29 November 2010)

This is a lecture about architecture and politics in the eleventh century. First, however, I would like to say a few words about another aspect of architectural history, namely style, because it does not feature in the body of the lecture and because of the criticism it currently faces and has faced for some time. I shall append my comments to two recollections. The first of these relates to a presentation in the 1990s at which the speaker identified the different kinds of expertise needed to understand a building, including that of the palaeographer for the documentary history, of the petrologist if it was a masonry structure, and so on to the architectural historian, who was given the task of dealing with style. The second recollection concerns a conference a few years later at which one of the participants said they wished that discussion of style could be banned. The two remarks taken together lead to an amusing conclusion, but they were separate utterances and so should be considered separately. As to the first, there are of course many other contributions that the architectural historian can make, not least in terms of social history, but I am pleased to see the task of assessing the relevance of style assigned to them because, if they do not undertake it, it is unlikely that anyone else will. On the second, I have some sympathy with the speaker, because style can be such a slippery concept that at times one might think it better to do without it. But, however justified such criticism, the varying stylistic characteristics found in objects carry so much information about the choices made by innumerable individuals in the course of human history that it would be counterproductive to abandon them, regardless of the difficulties.

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Structurae cannot make the full text of this publication available at this time. The full text can be accessed through the publisher via the DOI: 10.1017/s0066622x00003981.
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