Call for Papers: “What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?”: The Window as Protagonist in British Architecture and Visual Culture

  • 5 June 2024

From the quintessentially romantic “balcony scene” in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the visceral tension of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1954 film Rear Window; in paintings, prints and photography; in architectural drawings and their realisation in three-dimensional form, the window has played a significant role in almost every medium of artistic expression.

The window serves, both literally and figuratively, as a boundary between interior spaces and the external world, between humans and nature, between the familiar and the unknown. As we mark five years this winter since the outbreak of Covid-19, we recognise how recurring lockdowns underscored our own personal consciousness of the boundary between interior and exterior. More than a boundary, however, the window also acts as a frame, helping to define and mediate how we see and interact with the spaces around us, not least providing a view of the world outside from a place of relative protection from the elements – an important consideration following the world’s hottest year on record. Across visual media and architectural design, the window is central to a broad range of issues, including self-representation, privacy and security, surveillance and voyeurism, spiritual and religious symbolism, climate and the environment, and technological and industrial innovation.

This conference will explore the multifaceted, multi-purpose nature of the window as protagonist, with an emphasis on its place in British architecture and visual culture, broadly conceived. A range of interdisciplinary papers presented by international scholars will provide a platform for dynamic and engaging discourse that forefronts the cultural and social significance of the window in its many guises as object, as boundary, as frame and as mediator.

As part of this two-day conference, we invite proposals for papers that consider the various roles of the window across periods, media and disciplines; we are committed to championing new voices, and especially encourage proposals from graduate students and early career researchers.

More information and submission guidelines.