Position title: Robert J. Reinhold Dissertation Fellow (2021-2022)
Dissertator, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, UW–Madison
On the Nature of Architecture: An Ecocritical Approach to Vitruvius
This dissertation primarily examines the De Architectura (On Architecture) of Vitruvius through an ecocritical approach. Natura serves as both the natural environment—which is consistently shown to be the primary basis for all good art, architecture, and engineering—and the sole divine force in the De Architectura, which notably lacks any significant presence of the gods as determiners of human life or the universe. But despite its centrality to the work as a whole, little dedicated attention has been paid to the important role that natura, or nature, plays throughout Vitruvius’ text. In this project, I will first establish the prevalence of natura in its many forms throughout Vitruvius’ work. I will then show how a fuller understanding and appreciation of Nature’s role in the text unifies the otherwise seemingly varied topics that Vitruvius covers into a cohesive corpus of architecture. I endeavor to show that by taking an ecocritical approach, wherein nature and the natural environment are held as the primary focus of evaluation, what emerges from the text is not only an almost constant obsession with how the built environment should interact with nature, but also a central theme that connects even the most seemingly disconnected aspects of the De Architectura: the built environment’s role in negotiating a healthy relationship between humankind and nature.
Amie Goblirsch is a Ph.D. candidate in Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary research interests are in Greek and Latin technical literature and the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean. Her dissertation focuses on Vitruvius’ De Architectura and the rich cultural and literary intertexts found within the technical discussions of each book. Amie received her BA in Classics (with honors) from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 and her MA in Classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018. At UW, Amie has taught a variety of courses as a teaching assistant in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, including Classical Mythology, The Greeks and The Romans (Comm-B, writing intensive courses), Western Literature and Art, Elementary Latin, and Intensive Latin. Amie also served as the primary instructor for Classics 322: The Romans during the summer term of 2021. In the summer of 2019, she served as a Graduate Fellow for the Writing Across the Curriculum program and in 2021 was awarded the L&S Continuity of Instruction Award for exceptional instruction as a teaching assistant during the recent pandemic.