Book Series Harvey Miller - Art History (Outside a Series)

Architecture of Knowledge: Hawksmoor and Oxford

Eleonora Pistis

  • Pages: 320 p.
  • Size:220 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:6 b/w, 217 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024


This book discloses the meaning of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s extraordinary designs and urban plans for Oxford University (1708-1736), providing a new multi-layered picture of the creation, collection, and dissemination of architectural knowledge across different media in one of the most important centers of learning in Western culture.


Eleonora Pistis is Assistant Professor in the Art History & Archaeology Department at Columbia University. She is a specialist of 17th- and 18th-century architecture and antiquarian culture.


Nicholas Hawksmoor’s dream of a new Oxford, though only partly realized between 1708 and 1736, remains one of the most striking examples of the architecture of knowledge from the early modern period. This was a time of enlightened experimentation on paper and in stone. Intellectuals and their chosen architect envisaged a network of streets, paths, gates and squares connecting newly designed colleges, libraries and the university press. Complementing the feverish activity of the worksites the study, collecting and dissemination of architecture was profoundly reshaped. Building, thinking and learning are entwined in this episode as never before in the history of a great university as it pivoted from medieval to modern. The graphic legacy of this ferment is illustrated with an abundance of drawings, prints and treatises, many published here for the first time.


Note for the Reader
Book Chapters
Part I Men of Letters, Men of Stones
Chapter 1 I Am Architecture: Hawksmoor and Queen’s College
The Vice-Chancellor and Architecture
The Architect’s Knowledge
Knowledge on Display
Oxford’s Doors Open
Chapter 2 Architecture into a Book: Aldrich and The Elements
The Dean and the Books
Architectural Learning and the Instruction of “Young Students”
Taxonomy, Order, and Disorder
Images in Translation
Ornament, Rules, and Licentia
History between the Ancients and the Moderns
Chapter 3 The Architecture of Knowledge: Clarke and the Library-Laboratory
The Don and Architecture
Unlocking the Study
A Library of a Library
Too Much on the Shelves
Networks of Objects, Networks of People
Learning and Academic Experimentation
Erudition in Stone
Part II A City in Paper, a City of Stone
Chapter 4 “Generall Draughts, and Regular Schemes” (1710–1712)
“The Genius that Now Seems To Govern”
The Printing House
Imagining and Planning a New University
The Enlargement of the Bodleian Library
Chapter 5 “Accademia Oxoniensis Amplificata et Exornata” (1713–1714)
The Forum and Radcliffe
All the Souls of Books
The Temple-Church
Town and Gown
Chapter 6 Coming to Terms with History (1714–1736)
A Bubble of Credulity: 1720
The Explanation
A Reasonable Uniformity
The Printed City: 1733
For “Diversion” and “Good Wishes”
Almost There! (1736)
Chapter 7 Conclusion: Architecture and Knowledge
List of Illustrations