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David Karmon


Visual Arts Department
Architectural Studies

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Harvard University
M. Arch., Yale University

Fields: Early modern art and architecture

• CV (PDF) »

Office Phone: 508-793-2253
Office: Fenwick 438
PO Box: 60A

My research focus is on the history of buildings and landscapes, specializing in the history of European architecture and urban design between 1400-1800. A recurring theme in my work is the exploration of the multiple ways that our physical surroundings change over time. Although we may think of architecture primarily in static or permanent terms, buildings age like living organisms, and often they must adapt to circumstances different from those for which they were conceived. Studying buildings as a creative and ongoing process of construction, destruction, and renewal affords us new perspectives not only in terms of how designs can accommodate different needs, but how complex political, social, and economic forces intersect to shape our surroundings. I have explored these issues in greater depth in a number of publications, including my recent book, The Ruin of the Eternal City: Antiquity and Preservation in Renaissance Rome (Oxford University Press, 2011), and I have given talks in the United States and abroad on the history of archaeology in Rome and other sites in the early modern Mediterranean. My most recent research projects explore the role of the senses in perceiving, interpreting, and generating built spaces in the early modern world.


My courses on the history of art and architecture in early modern Europe are typically object-based, and I also adopt thematic approaches to situate works within a broader social and cultural context. In the Architectural Studies program, I offer architectural history courses as well as "studio-seminars" that integrate design projects with discussion of texts.

  • Destruction and Renewal
  • Global Commerce in Fifteenth-Century Italy
  • Art and Antiquity in Sixteenth-Century Italy
  • Art, Science, and Power in the Seventeenth Century
  • Survey History of Architecture
  • Designing the Built Environment
  • Sensory Perception in Architecture
  • Architectural Theory and Practice