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Title: A Beautiful Leisure: The Decadent Architectural Humanism of Geoffrey Scott, Bernard and Mary Berenson
Authors: Campbell, Mark
Advisors: Colomina, Beatriz
Contributors: Architecture Department
Keywords: Aesthetics
Subjects: Architecture
Art history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: A Beautiful Leisure: The Decadent Humanism of Geoffrey Scott and Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Berenson This dissertation utilizes a critical reading of Geoffrey Scott's <italic>The Architecture of Humanism: A Study in the History of Taste</italic> (1914) to examine a series of broader architectural concerns during the period 1890-1924. Fascinatingly, Scott's history is not only the &ldquo;most interesting product of early twentieth-century English architectural writing,&rdquo; as Reyner Banham rightly acknowledged, but also one of its most undeniably eccentric. While he intended this work to promote the humanist principles he read in Italian Renaissance architecture, with the hope of restoring a sense of taste to English architecture debased by late-Victorian eclecticism, this study reflected a kind of prudish (if academically lax) historicism and a particular strain of late-nineteenth-century aestheticism, as it was personified by Scott's mentor, the connoisseur Bernard Berenson, and his wife Mary Berenson. In this way, the <italic>Architecture of Humanism</italic> simultaneously offers a repudiation of contemporaneous architectural thinking, as articulated by John Ruskin, W.R. Lethaby, and Reginald Blomfield, while also expressing the culturally pernicious beliefs held by the Anglo-American leisure classes who sought to sublimate the "imperfections of the world" through the aesthetic pursuits of a beautiful leisure. While agreeing with the critical consensus that the most immediate academic value of <italic>The Architecture of Humanism</italic> lies with its negation of these critical misconceptions, or `fallacies,' this dissertation is especially concerned with two other less obvious readings. In the first reading, if architecture constituted a way of remembering for Scott (providing the &ldquo;least conscious record of society&rdquo;), it also facilitated a mode of forgetting in which the past was idealized -- or simply forgotten -- in the efforts of refuting the present. (With the humanist ambitions of the work exposed as anachronistic by the mechanized slaughter of the first world war.) Secondly, following his interpretation of German empathy theory, Scott's argued architecture was `humanized' through the inhabitant's psychosomatic inhabitation of space. However his own exhausted `sensitivity' toward architecture, together with his referral to the `modern science of psychology,' meant his `history of taste' unwittingly evidences the fracture of subjectivity many other figures, such as Sigmund Freud and T.S. Eliot, considered symptomatic of the emergent modernist epoch.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Architecture

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