Announcing the 2013-2014 CRASSH/ EMSI/ Harman Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

In partnership with the University of Cambridge Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) and the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute (EMSI), the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study is providing support for Kimberly Skelton, Ph.D., the inaugural 2013-2014 CRASSH/EMSI/Harman Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Early Modern Visual and Material Culture.  Dr. Skelton received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2007.

Dr. Skelton has taught courses on early modern art and architecture at Tufts and Brandeis Universities since 2007.  Her research interests reflect the tenets of polymathic inquiry, centering on intersections of early modern intellectual, phenomenological, and architectural history – particularly the question of how philosophical arguments about human perception informed design and reception of the built environment. The Paradox of Body, Building and Motion in Seventeenth-Century England, her recently completed book manuscript under contract with Manchester University Press, explores how seventeenth-century English architects and patrons rethought the domestic interior into networks of circulation, as motion became a dominant mode of cultural perception. She has also published on the German Wendel Dietterlin’s fantasticalArchitectura (1598) and the impact of the Italian Andrea Palladio’s church façades in England and America.

The project she has chosen to investigate with the fellowship is entitled Look But Don’t Touch: Sight-Touch Paradigms in Early Modern Architecture, which seeks to investigate the growing separation between sight and touch in both lived experience and philosophical argument over the course of the seventeenth-century. Prior to the seventeenth-century, individuals often understood the world through a combination of sight and touch, handling objects in private collections. However, as understanding of the eye and sight grew, the ties between touch and sight lessened. The late seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century saw architects resituate building theory and design in a viewer who looked sequentially and looked more than touched. This interdisciplinary project traces the emergence of the sequentially looking sensory viewer in the seventeenth-century through case studies, as well as examining this visual turn’s effect on architecture and its reception. It is an ideal project for our inaugural Postdoctoral Fellowship, combining architecture, art, scientific discovery, and cultural historical inquiry into a truly polymathic endeavor. Furthermore, the Harman Academy support will allow Skelton to take full advantage of the resources offered by our partners at the EMSI and CRASSH, as this project depends upon in-depth archival research at the Huntington Library, Cambridge University Libraries, and Fitzwilliam Museum. 

Dr. Skelton will be leading a Master Class entitled, “Sight In Context: Early Modern Modes of Perception” at the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study (Doheny Memorial Library, Suite 241) on Thursday, February 27th (Please note: This has been changed from the original date of February 20th) from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  The class will explore many of the most pertinent aspects of Dr. Skelton’s research, specifically how concepts of sight and perception shifted in the seventeenth-century and how that affected perception of space, architecture, art, etc. Please join us for this truly polymathic discussion and to celebrate our inaugural Harman Academy Postdoctoral Fellow!


RSVP: Go to http:/ and enter ESVP code: MASTERCLASS