‘Handbuch der Architektur’ (1880–1943): A German Design Manual for the Building Profession

The first volume of the massive reference book series Handbuch der Architektur  (Handbook of Architecture) was published in 1880.[1] At this time, the population of European cities was growing at a hitherto unprecedented scale, industrialization outside of England was reaching its peak, and traffic infrastructure was taking on global dimensions. The building boom of the … Continue reading ‘Handbuch der Architektur’ (1880–1943): A German Design Manual for the Building Profession

The Book Will Kill the Edifice? Mechanics Manuals and Learning to Draw in the Early and Mid-Nineteenth Century

In Notre-Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo (1802–1885) wrote, “the book will kill the edifice.” Spoken by Archdeacon Claude Frollo, this phrase signified the view that the Renaissance was “that setting sun we mistake for a dawn.”[1] Understood as a revolution in tectonics away from the organic and toward the classical, the Renaissance had separated sculpture, … Continue reading The Book Will Kill the Edifice? Mechanics Manuals and Learning to Draw in the Early and Mid-Nineteenth Century

Constructing Authority in Early British Aviation

By definition, experts play a vital role in creating, sustaining, and disseminating any particular body of knowledge. But what constitutes an expert? How is authority obtained? Does this change over time? There are no absolute answers, which is to say that the question of who is considered to be an authority is culturally and socially … Continue reading Constructing Authority in Early British Aviation

Celebrating Technology at the 1933–34 World’s Fair

Poster urging people to attend the Century of Progress International Exposition in 1933–34. The "bright" metaphor encompassed both the technological "progress" that was the focus of the fair and the diversity of resulting consumer goods presented in a striking array of colors. Source: Library of Congress, PPOC, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014646779/. On the "bright" metaphor, see Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann, eds., Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).