Rhetoric and Architecture?

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From: John David Fleming <[email protected]>
Newsgroups: alt.architecture
Subject: rhetoric and architecture?
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1993 10:44:00 -0500
Organization: Doctoral student, English, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA
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For a possible paper on the relationship of town planning and rhetoric,
I would like any references that people might know of linking these two.
My original impetus for this project is historical; in 444 B.C.,
Pericles -- so the story goes -- selected the sophist Protagoras [an
educator and early philosopher of language, discourse, and
argumentation] to formulate the laws for the new colony of Thurii in
southern Italy. Also chosen to help "design" the colony was Hippodamus,
the town planner, already well known for laying out the grid pattern of
Piraeus. Hippodamus was supposedly also a political theorist.

My own field is rhetoric, so I feel comfortable in that literature. But,
although I've been working on the "rhetoric of design" for some time
now, most of this has been in relationship with industrial and graphic
design. I know little about urban planning, for example. There seems to
be a pretty good literature on the "semiotics" of architecture, but I
like to think that a "rhetoric" of architecture would be somewhat
different, for example, would be less interested in the "signifying
codes" of building and more interested in the dynamic, discursive
actions constituted in and surrounding architecture. I'm particularly
interested, then, in locating ways of seeing "building" as both a social
and deliberative *process* of construction and as a constructed *object*
which is itself communicativ. And I'm also interested in how "building"
is related to discourse and argument, that is, how the built world
always embodies ideas about how people interact and argue and assemble
for rhetorical action.

I realize this is a broad topic, but any historical or contemporary
references would be appreciated, especially anything making explicit
connections between architectural or urban design and the discipline of

David Fleming
Rhetoric Program, English Dept.
Carnegie Mellon University
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