Michael Coughlin

B.A. (UVic)
M.A. (UVic)
Ph.D. Candidate (UBC)

Areas of research:

  • Early Modern European Art
  • Modern European Art

How have your History in Art studies helped you since you graduated?
Since my graduation at UVic, I have been pursuing a PhD in Art History from the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Colombia, which I expect to complete this year. During my residency at UBC I presented several papers at various conferences around the world, including one at Harvard University and one for the Renaissance Society of America in Venice, Italy. I was fortunate enough to spend two four-month research period in Italy, where I developed the foundations for my present dissertation. I am presently teaching ARTH 335, a third year course on the History of Art and Culture in Sixteenth-Century Italy at UBC.

Brief Biography
While working towards a BA with a double major in Italian and Spanish literature I became interested in exploring the ways in which masculine identity is fashioned by creating the illusion of masculinity through performance, in order to conform to culturally established gender ideas and norms. Urged by the many art history courses I had also taken at the undergraduate level at UVic, upon completion of my BA I decided to pursue my inquiry into gender identity in art. My Master’s thesis, ‘Titian, Poetics and the Performance of Masculinity’, was supervised by Dr. Erin Campbell. This work positions Venetian stylistic sensibilities in opposition to those of central Italy, allowed me to investigate my hypotheses further, during which time I was also able to trace the development of art criticism in order to better evaluate the history of ideas by understanding how the conventions of critical disco! urse were used as ideological tools to promote cultural beliefs about gender.

During my PhD residency I developed my minor teaching field in Modern Art, in which I explored the relationship between art and Catalan culture from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries in Barcelona. As a result I generated a syllabus for a course that examines works of art as products of modernity in Catalan society, with particular emphasis given to the contradictory nature of Catalan culture, caught at a crossroads between two opposing worlds – Spain, centralized in Madrid, and the rest of Europe, Paris in particular – and the importance of these conflicting positions in helping to shape the art and architecture of the period.

My major comprehensive exam looked at the singularity of linear perspective as immobility between subjectivity and objectivity in Early Modern Italian architecture, where I demonstrated how the singularity of linear perspective reduced the infinite possibilities of pure subjectivity to a unitary objective viewpoint, causing an alliance between subjectivity and objectivity through its immobility. By highlighting print culture’s role in recognizing the alliance, I explored the consequences of linear perspective for the architectural treatises of the period, and its profound effect on the architecture of the urban landscape.

In my dissertation entitled, ‘Logos and the Living Image: Prudence, Time and the Question of Free Will in the Architecture of Andrea Palladio,’ I explore how through its engagement with logos, Palladio's architecture articulates Plato's living word of knowledge as a living architectural image. I argue that by participating in deliberations about the benefits of divine logos, Palladio’s architecture became a site of debate about the existence of free will, through the relationship of the will to both prudence and time. By delineating how the virtue became the means through which the temporal determination of free will was negotiated, I explore how the temporal dimensions of prudence also acquired a spatial dimension in architecture, and how architecture's engagement with logos . Methodologically, I draw on the impact of conceptions of free will disseminated in the Platonic academies, in order to situate Palladio’s architecture within the conceptions of the will described by Plato, providing a comprehensive analysis of the influence of the Platonic Academies on architectural theory and practice.

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