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Title: Rhetoric and the city : reading Alberti, reading urban design.
Author: Dunlop, Kirsten.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3435 5369
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis addresses the affinities between rhetoric and architecture. It is an essay in cultural history prompted by the reading of a text: Leon Battista Alberti's famous, mid-Quattrocento treatise on architecture, De re aedificatoria. It is about the interrelation of rhetoric and architecture in the city in Italy between the Trecento and the Cinquecento. The argument is framed by the notion that the city is a duality involving material and discursive cultures. The built and the written city unites architecture and rhetoric as cognate cultural practices, a kinship which suggests that one can be read in terms of the other. Accordingly, this thesis proposes rhetoric as a tool for reading actual cities, and develops a model of rhetoric to apply to Italian medieval/Renaissancec ities basedo n a precedent found in De re aedificatoria. The thesis is arranged into two parts. The first involves a thorough reading of Alberti's treatise. Chapter One focuses on the analogy between rhetoric and architecture in his theory, arguing that De re aedificatoria demonstrates a comprehensive grafting of rhetoric onto architecture that goes beyond analogy. It further suggests that this interdisciplinary approach is a product of the humanist culture of which Alberti was a part. Chapter Two expands this reading by recognizing the long-standing history of association between rhetoric and architecture in literature, a history that has continued into modem discourse. That association is then discussed in general historical and cultural terms extrapolated from Alberti's text. These terms form the basis of case studies presented in the second part of the thesis. Given that rhetoric is integral to the design of the city, the second part of the thesis is a demonstration of two propositions: the first, that rhetoric is a useful way of reading actual cities; and the second, that rhetoric is a useful way of reading the history of actual cities. These propositions are explored in two thematically defined case studies. Chapter Three looks at the relationship between art and power in the urbanism of Florence from 1280 to 1560, with a brief comparative discussion of Herculean Ferrara (1471-1505). Chapter Four examines a rhetorical practice of intertextuality and textualauthority in the late-Quattrocento building projects of Pope Pius II at Pienza and Federico da Montefeltro at Urbino. Both Part One and Part Two are prefaced by introductions that establish the terms of the rhetoric used in this thesis. The Introduction to Part One offers an explanation in general theoretical terms of rhetoric's capacity to be an integrative public discourse. The Introduction to Part Two sketches a proposed rhetoric of the city which is applied comparatively in the case studies that follow. The thesis as a whole works to establish the coexistence of the built and written cities in history and to show how rhetoric is able to integrate them. It argues that rhetoric is an appropriate and flexible means of reading the complex interweaving of aesthetics and politics, memory, text, discourse and material culture, the real and the unreal, in the construction and articulation of the city
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Italy; Medieval; Renaissance