Call for Papers – ‘Stylistic Dead Ends? Fresh Perspectives on British Architecture between the World Wars’

RIBA13183_530x38120th – 21st June 2013, St John’s College, Oxford. Confirmed keynote: Professor Alan Powers (Independent Scholar/NYU London)

As interest in the full range of architecture in the interwar years grows, now is a good time to examine the various manifestations of modernism and non-modernism in the period. This symposium, to be held at St John’s College, Oxford, will pick up on the richness and variety of architectural output that engaged with the International Style whilst not ideologically part of it, and that which sought to ignore it all together.

This symposium aims to bring non-Modernist, but not necessarily non-moderne, monuments, to the foreground. The symposium aims to encourage terms like the neo-Georgian, Tudoresque, streamline moderne, twentieth century gothic revivalism, and vernacular to be discussed and to engage with each other on the same platform.

The recourse to discussion of style, and the evolution of style, needs to be problematised. The narrative of architectural history has tended towards the development of style rather than the examination of architectural ideas across a number of simultaneously existing stylistic options. Were there formal or theoretical interests that transcended stylistic concerns during the interwar period?

We are seeking papers on this material, including but not limited to the following broad areas, from architectural historians and scholars of related fields:

  • Public and commercial architecture
  • Domestic architecture
  • International practice and influence (how foreign practice influenced British architects and vice-versa, British architectural output throughout the Empire etc)
  • Architectural theory and methodology (how does work on this period bring into focus broader theoretical and methodological questions)
  • ‘Afterlives’: any aspect of a building’s life after its completion (architectural, textual, or visual reformulations or appropriations)
  • Cross-disciplinary, cross-media approaches and responses to interwar architecture (e.g. filmic responses to interwar architecture, papers from non-architectural historians etc.)

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on interwar architecture from academics and graduate students working in architectural history. Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words by February 4th, 2013 to

David Lewis
Neal Shasore
History of Art Department/St John’s College
Oxford University

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