Intersections: Architecture and Poetry

Date: February 11 – 12, 2011
Venue: London, UK

Research Forum
The Courtauld Institute of Art
‘We cover the universe with drawings we have lived’ Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958.

Poetry and architecture, brought together by Gaston Bachelard in his seminal investigation of lived-in space, are art-forms that nevertheless continue critically to be considered broadly apart from one another. The one concrete and three-dimensional, the other abstract and metaphorical, these two creative art forms invite further comparison. Philosophers and theorists have often used architectural metaphors in their writing – Freud, considering the canny (heimlich) as a cage that represses the uncanny (unheimlich); Bataille using architecture to represent authority and social order, that might be attacked and undermined by the destructive act of the individual; or Lyotard, proclaiming that ‘the temporal regime of the domus is rhythm or rhyme’.

This conference seeks to re-assess such analyses, presenting an innovative approach to critical theory and engaging with Bachelard on the level of ritual and hermeneutics. Concepts of beauty and utility, of personality and indexicality, of inscription and graffiti and of memory and temporality are all key concerns in the investigation of how these two distinct disciplines productively engage with one another. Not limited to studies in modernity, or to the western tradition, we hope to investigate intersections between architecture and poetry across the widest possible range of periods and regions. In addition to research-led papers, we would also welcome proposals from architects and poets.

Issues addressed might include, but are not limited to:

– Architects writing poetry, poets writing about architecture
– The structural affinities between architectural and linguistic creation
– Ephemerality and permanence
– The problem of representation versus spatiality, the concrete versus the abstract
– Problematising the categories of ‘poetic’ and ‘architectural’
– Transnationalism and lingual or aesthetic translations
– Nostalgia and heritage
– Scale and the modular
– The encoding, enshrining or marking of experience
– Inscriptions and the imaging of text

Proposals of no more than 250 words for 20-minute papers should be submitted to the organisers no later than 31 January 2011.
Caroline Levitt ( and Ayla Lepine (

See for submissions details, registration, and all further information: 
[Please note: this is an archival entry; conference website may be discontinued.]