Who do we listen to when we write histories of architectures, cities, and landscapes?
How many women authors can we find among our sources? How many of them are cited by those whose research we read? We argue that women and other marginalised groups have always been part of conversations on architectures, cities, and landscapes – but we have not had the space to listen to them. This conference is an invitation to reconstruct such conversations, real, imagined, and metaphorical ones, taking place in the 18th and 19th centuries, in any region, in order to diversify the ways we write histories. Taking the art of conversation, integral as both practice and form to the period in Western thought, and repurposing it to dismantle the exclusivity of historiography, this conference calls for contributions which bring women into dialogue with others.
Listening In proposes a new approach to the ‘canon’ and its protagonists. Rather than either fighting its existence or expanding it by means of ‘exceptions to the rule’, we call for the setting up of productive conversations. We acknowledge that the canon never exists on its own; instead, it is shaped by what Griselda Pollock has called ‘that which, while repressed, is always present as its structuring other’ (1999, 8). This conference is envisaged as a listening exercise. We regard a conversation as both codified practice as well as a specific act of verbal exchange, spoken or written, on a particular subject – here architectures, cities, and landscapes – occurring in a specific site, from street to salon, kitchen to court, construction site to theatre, field to church, or book to newspaper, to name but a few.