Classicism and Colonization: Architecture and its Discourses in Early-Modern England
This dissertation examines links between architectural and colonial discourse in order to provide a new account of England’s fascination with the all’antica manner in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. I argue that the allure of classicism during this period was directly related to imperial ambitions awakened by the consolidation of the Scottish and English crowns.
Seeking models for their nascent empire, architects and colonial “planters” looked to their own history as a Roman colony. Shared references to antiquity facilitated an unprecedented commerce between artistic and political discourse. Architects in England and colonizers abroad both fashioned themselves as the “new Romans,” reconceiving English identity as a product of Britain’s former subjugation. While classicism provided newly required symbols of empire, it also challenged traditional notions of “Englishness,” embroiling architects in cultural, political, and religious debates that transformed architecture and the status of architects.