Carla Keyvanian Awarded NEH Summer Stipend

CADC faculty member Carla Keyvanian was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend for her book-length manuscript investigating the relationship between architectural development and history in fifteenth-century Italy. Her study, which builds on her previous work, focuses on Santo Spirito in Sassia, a hospital built near the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484). The architecture of this Renaissance building is governed by a stringent set of modules based on mathematical ratios. The architectural language of this period hinged upon a revival of antiquity. The architecture of Santo Spirito incorporated instead elements from both the ancient and recent past, integrated into a modular system that amounted to a conceptual framework.

The architect of this extraordinary building is unknown. Keyvanian believes she has identified him in an individual who was both an architect-engineer and classicist of the highest caliber. The design of the hospital, she argues, represented a manifesto for architectural design based on geometric rigor while at the same time displaying a new understanding of the equal validity of all historical periods. Keyvanian’s study relies in part on a set of drawings produced by Ivan Vanchev (class of 2012) to investigate what she has identified as the unique intersection between architectural development and the emergence of a modern understanding of history during the Renaissance.

Keyvanian said, “Receiving a grant for one’s work always means more than obtaining resources—it means validation of the project and a brief allaying of the voices of self-doubt that haunt us. In this case, that validation came early, thanks to the Limited Submissions Committee at Auburn that selected my project for submission to the NEH. Collaboration, it is often said, is the secret ingredient of successful outcomes and this was never truer. The Committee, especially in the person of Paula Backscheider in the English Department, helped me hone my proposal by providing the mixture of encouragement and sharp-eyed suggestions that is every scholar’s dream. I could not have achieved this result without them.”

The NEH Summer Stipend program provides funding to scholars to promote research and publication in the humanities. It is a highly competitive program with less than 10% of proposals funded each cycle.

CADC Dean Vini Nathan said, “I am so pleased and excited that Professor Keyvanian received this prestigious award from NEH. Her work provides great insight into the history and theory of architecture and urbanism. This NEH Summer Stipend will be a great support to her continued research in Rome and development of a new book on the creation of Santo Spirito in Sassia.”

Keyvanian is currently in Italy as a recipient of the Rome Prize for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the American Academy in Rome. She will use the NEH Summer Stipend to continue her research in the State Archives of Rome and Padua while completing the first draft of her book.

Carla Keyvanian is professor in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture.

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Carla Keyvanian