Dell Upton, "Architectural
History or Landscape History?", In Journal of Architectural Education
(August 1991), 195-199.
Dell Upton asserts
that twentieth-century experience teaches us that norms of perception underlying
notions of universal aesthetics do not exist. In this essay he posits
a number of alternatives in place of aesthetic universals. Upton believes
the individual work as a unit of analysis and the distinction between creator
and audience (which are the basis of traditional architectural history) developed
in the nineteenth-century as a justification for the existence of the professional
architect and designed architecture, intended to discredit the craftsman builder
and vernacular forms as well as the untrained person's sense of "taste."
Instead, he proposes a "multiplicity and fragmentation on environmental meaning,"
analyzing social and historical artifacts in place of value judgements of high
and low culture. He advocates the exploration human experience and social
interaction in place of the biography of the builder or designer as the creator
of meaning in architectural works. Upton notes that vernacularists are
oftentimes guilty of applying this same hierarchical thinking. They accept
the governing assumptions of architectural history, creating a high and low
vernacular architecture. [H. Nasstrom Evans.]