Architecture and Narrative: The Built Environment in Modern Culture

The Architecture and Narrative research theme considers the shaping power of the architectures in which we act out our lives — the house, the apartment, the institution, the office, the shop, the street, the concert hall and museum.

The theme arises from recent cultural explorations of the domestic, vernacular, and public architectures that shape the experience of modern life. We consider purpose-built architecture, as well as renovations, occupancy patterns, and everyday cityscapes. Importantly, a broadened cultural approach counts occupants, writers, artists, and community groups as architectural actors. We understand architecture and the humanities to be in a truly reciprocal dialogue about the form and function of everyday spaces.

Our research activities and events will aim to establish a rich critical conversation between architecture and the humanities, build an international, transdisciplinary network of scholars, and establish the grounding for a range of collaborative research efforts. We will bring together scholars from a number of associated fields, including art history, literary studies, film and media studies, music, geography, and architecture, to undertake an analysis of modern architectural spaces and narratives, from the late nineteenth-century to the present day. We welcome new colleagues and collaborators to the project.

Follow the project on Twitter for updates on events @ArchNarrative


Podcasts recorded at events associated with Architecture and Narrative: The Built Environment in Modern Culture are available. Recent events include: 'Maeve Brennan (1917-1993): Centenary Perspectives'. Listen here:

Project Leaders:

Professor Anne Fogarty
UCD School of English, Drama and Film
+353 1 716 8159

Dr Katherine Fama
UCD School of English, Drama and Film
+353 1 716 8158

Research Outputs

We have remained committed to field building in the Architectural Humanities, delivering invited talks and conference papers, and organizing a major seminar at Modernist Studies Association (MSA) Conference in Columbus, Ohio, November 2018.  Dr Kate Fama continues to deliver research-lead teaching in the area of the architectural humanities; she currently convenes the following modules: ENG 31460 American Literary Architecture, 1800-1950 (Level 3 Seminar Module) and ENG31460 The Modern City and Literature (Level 3 Lecture Module). A new graduate module—American Modernism at Home— will be introduced in Spring 2020. 

Upcoming Events

Dr Sari Altschuler "After the Outbreak: Narrative, Infrastructure and Pandemic Time"

Thursday, 24 September 2020 Webinar @ 4pm

Hosted by Katherine Fama, Environmental Humanities and Architecture and Narrative.


Dr Alix Beeston: "Mothering Photography: Gertrude Käsebier and the Maternal Line of Sight" 

Wednesday, 7 October, 2020 Webinar @ 4pm

Senior Lecturer in English | Uwch Darlithydd mewn Llenyddiaeth SaesnegSchool of English, Communication and Philosophy | Ysgol Saesneg, Cyfathrebu ac Athroniaeth CaerdyddCardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd

What happens to our view of American modernist photography when we think of it not as “fathered” by Alfred Stieglitz—or Paul Strand, or Ansel Adams, or Edward Weston—but instead as “mothered” by Gertrude Käsebier? Käsebier was one of the most successful portrait photographers in the US in the early twentieth century, but scholars have often followed Stieglitz’s lead in dismissing her work, along with the wider Pictorialist movement, as anti-modern. Focusing on a series of family photographs Käsebier made in and around her New York City studio in 1909 and 1910—the moment when she and Stieglitz parted ways, both aesthetically and personally—this talk traces a different line of development for modernist photography. To emphasise how, around 1910, Käsebier quit Stieglitz rather than the other way around is to locate modernist photography in proximity to the material, vernacular, and feminised visual cultures of modernity: to see it as part of the dailiness of modern (family) life, especially for women.

Dr. Alix Beeston writes about modern and contemporary literature, photography, and film. She is particularly interested in the ethical possibilities of representations of women in writing and visual culture, as well as in the history of women’s creative labor. She is the author of In and Out of Sight: Modernist Writing and the Photographic Unseen (Oxford University Press, 2018) and the Editor of the Visualities Forum at Modernism/modernity Print Plus.


Dr Benjamin Kahan"Willa Cather's Voyeurism, the Peephole Subject, and the Misses of Sexual Aim"

Thursday, 15 October, 2020 / Zoom lecture @ 4pm

His lecture will be the first joint Modern Architecture and Narrative and Environmental Humanities event.

Benjamin Kahan is an Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Louisiana State University. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Sydney, the National Humanities Center, and the Reed Foundation. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Kahan will hold a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. He is the author of Celibacies: American Modernism and Sexual Life (Duke, 2013) and The Book of Minor Perverts: Sexology, Etiology, and the Emergences of Sexuality (Chicago, 2019). He is also the editor of Heinrich Kaan’s “Psychopathia Sexualis” (1844): A Classic Text in the History of Sexuality (Cornell, 2016), The Cambridge History of Queer American Literature (under contract with Cambridge), and a co-editor of Theory Q, a book series from Duke University Press.

Please reserve tickets HERE.


Conferences Organised

Maeve Brennan (1917-1993), Centenary Perspectives, 24 November 2017. Speakers: Dr Ellen McWilliams (Exeter University), Sinéad Gleeson (Dublin), Professor Patricia Coughlan (University College Cork), Dr Éilís Ní Dhuibne (UCD) and Professor Angela Bourke (UCD). Many of the papers considered Brennan’s relationship to the house and home, to the city and to modern urban spaces, especially in New York.

Single Lives Conference (13-14 October 2017), Keynote Lecture by Professor Rebecca Traister at the National Library of Ireland; several panels on architecture.

Irish Association of American Studies (IAAS) Annual Conference (27-28 April 2018). Panel sessions on Space and Literature.

Seminars Conducted

International Pedagogy Seminars: Theories & Methods in Interdisciplinary Humanities Teaching 23-24 March, 2018: “Teaching the Archive: Local Places and Digital Spaces”, UCD Humanities Institute. Speakers: Dr  Lucy Collins, Dr Sara Ebrahimi and Dr Kelly Fitzgerald.

Modern Architecture and Narrative Seminar, Graphic Modernisms, Modernist Studies Association Annual Meeting, Columbus Ohio, 9 November 2018

Invited Presenters: Professor Kirin Makker and Professor Victoria Rosner
Additional Participants: Dr. Katherine Fama, Prof. Anne Fogarty, Prof. Ria Banerjee, Ms. Alex Fabrizio, Dr. Miguel Caballero, Prof. Marsha Bryant, Ms. Michelle Rada, Mr. Jacob Harris, Dr. Stefanie Sobelle, Prof. Morris Beja, Dr. Catherine Flynn, Ms. Therese Anne Cox.

Dr Kate Fama

Kate Fama, “Introduction,” “Vernacular Architecture & Domestic Fictions,” Modern Architecture and Narrative Seminar, Modernist Studies Association Conference, Columbus, Ohio, 9 November 2018.
(Session Chair) “Writing the City” and “Francophone Perspectives”, Transnational and Translingual Urban Writing, University of London
“The Literary Architecture of Singleness: Independent Women in the Modern U.S. City.”
Lunchtime Series, Humanities Institute, UCD

“Review of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and A Woman’s Place in America.” Studies in American Naturalism 13.1 (Winter, 2018).
“Domestic Data and Feminist Momentum: The Narrative Accounting of Helen Stuart Campbell and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” Studies in American Naturalism 12.1 (Summer, 2017): 105-126.
“The Single Architecture of Contending Forces: Lodging Independent Women in the “Little Romance.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 41.1 9 (January, 2017): 196-221.

Publications in Progress
The Literary Architecture of Singleness: American Fiction and the Production of Women’s Independent Space, 1880-1929

Essay Collection in preparation, co-edited with Dr Jorie Lagerwey, Single Lives: Independent Women in Modern and Contempoary Culture.

Funding Awards
The Humanities Pedagogy Workshop: 2016-19
Zukunftskolleg EU COFUND, University of Konstanz (Joint Award).
Funded Travel Expenses for “Teaching the Archive: Local Places and Digital Spaces”

22 May 2019: Reading + Conversation: Tomoka Shibasaki, Aleana Egan, Tanad Williams and Katherine Fama
Temple Bar Gallery + Studios partnered with International Literature Festival Dublin as part of their current exhibition staring forms. ILFD writer-in-residence, Tomoka Shibasaki gave a reading from her novel Spring Garden. Shibasaki is a Japanese writer and winner of Noma Literary New Face Prize and the Akutagawa Prize. Following the reading, Shibasaki was joined by two exhibiting artists from staring forms, Aleana Egan and Tanad Williams, to discuss some of the common themes and ideas addressed through the various art forms around spaces, interiority, literature and the Japanese influence on art. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Katherine Fama.
Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Professor Anne Fogarty

“’One step ahead of the wreckers’: Reading the Architectural Imaginary in the Writings of Maeve Brennan”,  Modern Architecture and Narrative Seminar, Modernist Studies Association Conference, Columbus, Ohio, 9 November 2018.
Publications (Professor Anne Fogarty): “’Someone whose kindness did not matter’: Femininity and Ageing in Anne Enright’s The Green Road.”  Nordic Irish Studies 18.2 (2018): 131-44.  Ed. Margaret O’Neill and Michaela Schrage-Früh.    

Publications in Progress
“The Architectonics of Identity: Family Secrets and Sibling Relations in The Birds of the Innocent Woods and Remembering Light and Stone”. Deirdre Madden: New Critical Perspectives. Ed. Anne Fogarty and Marisol Morales Ladrón (Manchester University Press, forthcoming)

“Keeping House: Reading Architecture in the Dublin Stories of Maeve Brennan.” Essay in preparation for a collection of essays on Irish modernism.

© Katherine Fama