The Thing Itself: AA Files and the Fates of Architectural Theory

Thomas Weaver

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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The Thing Itself: AA Files and the Fates of Architectural Theory explores architecture’s relationship with its editing. This is ostensibly discussed through the lens of a particular architectural journal, AA Files (part of a long tradition of journals produced by the Architectural Association in London since its inception in the mid-nineteenth century; and four issues of which form an accompanying second volume to this thesis), which in turn leads to a historical, semantic and polemical examination of what this dissertation contends are the three principal components of any architectural journal: its text (that is, its relationship to words, language and writing); its images (that is, architecture’s visual grammar and iconography) and finally its fundamental subject (that is, the architect themselves). The research is bookended, in its introduction, by an analysis of Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-dame de Paris (1831/32), whose celebrated protagonist, Quasimodo the hunchback, is overshadowed in architectural terms by its even more celebrated formulation – ‘this will kill that’ (meaning, that with invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, architecture’s responsibility to carry thoughts, ideas, images, had been destroyed). Echoes to the resonances of this formulation then reappear throughout each of the dissertation’s parts, before the conclusion more explicitly identifies the theoretical consequences of Hugo’s much-quoted mantra, and more generally frames the preceding parts of this dissertation through its advocacy of a specific model of writing, image-making, publishing, teaching and essentially considering architecture.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Rosbottom, D.J., Supervisor
  • Avermaete, Tom, Supervisor
  • Havik, K.M., Advisor
Award date23 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

2 volumes


  • Architecture
  • editing
  • writing
  • image-making
  • biography
  • theory


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