Keith Bresnahan

Associate Professor, OCAD University, Toronto (Canada)

Keith Bresnahan is a historian of architecture and design, with an emphasis on 18th and 19th-century France. His work is particularly concerned with historical moments at which images, objects and built environments are given social or subjective agency, and with the role of emotions in architectural history. Along these lines, he is currently completing a book on philosophical and psychological discourses of architectural experience in late 18th-century France. Other ongoing projects involve a history of emotional responses to the destruction of Paris after the 1871 Commune.

Structures of Feeling: The Invention of Architectural Experience, 1740-1800

In late 18th-century France, "sensationist" epistemology, which posited sensory experience as the basis for all human knowledge and behavior, informed a wide range of inquiries into the sensational basis of language, education, sexuality, psychology, politics, and natural science. This project considers how sensationist ideas were taken up by architects and theorists in this period, who used them to radically re-orient architecture toward the sensational and emotional impact of form and space on a feeling subject.

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