Published in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Volume 64, Issue 3, September 1, 2005, pages 381-383.
Publisher's website: http://www.sah.org
As any undergraduate knows, architectural history is a relentlessly visual subject. It is not impossible, but exceedingly difficult to make a convincing argument through words alone. Words must talk to pictures, in the absence of buildings, and pictures must join together to form a visual argument that is an analogue of the text. What then are we to do with the big picture books favored by publishers like Rizzoli? These serve a function and have an audience, which includes many historians, some of whom are their authors; but it is not the same function as an academic publication, which rarely graces the tops of coffee tables.