34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand – Call For Papers

34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
5-8 July 2017.

Quotation, Quotation: What Does History Have in Store for Architecture Today?

Recalling Goethe’s theory of ur-phenomenon and considering the Eiffel Tower as a montage of various elements, Walter Benjamin presented quotation as the Geist of a theoretical break with the vulgar historical naturalism, and as a means to grasp the construction of history as such: as meaning in the structure of commentary. Benjamin was not alone in using quotation as a strategy to deconstruct historicism. We are also reminded of Karl Kraus, who used quotation not to preserve, but to purify, to tear from context, to destroy the established totality. Considered as a fragment, quotation can play a critical role in putting together the large construction (historiography) made out of smallest architectonic elements, the detail.

In general we are asking, what do you quote and to what purpose?

Recent historiographies present anachronism as a theoretical paradigm to dispense with the historicist certainties, which most often try to cement the historian’s tendency for period style, solidifying the linear progression of history. Even though quotation seems to be natural to historiography, it’s hard to find a text or manuscript that does not use quotation to re-activate the past, either to confirm a claim, or to expand the scope of the historiographical implications of another claim. In both cases quotation introduces interruption, a pause in the presumed linearity and natural extension of the narrative. But what is it that makes a sentence or an idea quotable? And why is it that throughout history both architects and historians have used citations, if only to save a place in the linear progression of history? The historian’s interest in quotation might be that it says something about an event and/or serves as a reminder of the accuracy of a fact, a recollection. Or else, citation forces the sentence to depart from its subject matter, historical facts and events in order to enter into the realm of what might be called insight, which can also mean in-cite, or in-site. Insightful observations, nevertheless, can become facts in their own right after being quoted and referred to repeatedly. Interestingly enough, Manfredo Tafuri makes a distinction between those who use quotations “to build a new reality” and those who use the same quotations “in order to cover up the disappointments of reality.” In addition to the Benjaminian concept of historiographic montage, what quotation means for architectural historiography is this: that the text, an assembly of facts, processes, events, and insightful observations offers quotable fragments when it inaugurates or establishes a different historical knowledge.

We invite you to consider, among other relevant subjects:

  • What use does quotation have for historiography, in general, and architectural history, in particular?
  • What role does the historian play in assembling quotations next to verifiable facts and information?
  • What is the difference between citation and quotation?
  • Quotation and historicism.
  • Do quotations from the past “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of living,” as Marx once said?
  • Is happiness experienced in quoting something that has not yet become history, as suggested in Walter Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History”?
  • Postmodernism: tradition quoted or simulated?
  • Historical quotations and commentary transplanted/translated out of their historicity.
  • Globalization of information and digital collection of data: is it the end of quotation, or a different beginning?
  • Contemporary notion of synchronicity and its implications for the discipline of history-writing?


Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted via the Online Conference Paper Management website.

To upload your abstract, please create a Login ID and password.

Abstracts will be blind reviewed by at least two members of the Conference Academic Committee. External referees may be called upon to review an abstract if needed. Full papers (4500 words, including notes) will be double blind peer reviewed and those accepted for presentation at the conference will be published on the conference website, with print-on-demand editions of the full conference proceedings available after the conference at additional cost.

SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT via the Online Conference Paper Management website.

For inclusion in the proceedings, a paper needs to be presented at the conference. In exceptional circumstances, (due to health, mobility etc.), a live video presentation by the paper’s author may be accepted. Authors may only present one paper as a sole author, although they may present one additional paper as a co-author. All papers presented are to be accompanied by a unique conference registration – where a sole author of one paper is also the co-author of a second, the other co-author is required to register.

Work submitted for review and for publication in the conference proceedings should be original research that has not previously been published elsewhere, or work that has undergone substantial development from a prior publication.


The invited panelists are to be confirmed.


  • Abstracts due: 14 October, 2016
  • Abstract acceptances sent out: 26 October 2016
  • Papers due for refereeing: 14 February 2017
  • Final papers due: 1 May 2017
  • Conference: 5-8 July 2017


Prof. Gevork Hartoonian: gevork.hartoonian@canberra.edu.au
Dr. John Ting: john.ting@canberra.edu.au