"To fan the ardour of the layman": J.M. Richards, The Architectural Review, and discourses of modernism in British architecture, 1933-1972
This thesis examines the history of discourses of modern architecture in Britain through the career of J.M. Richards as a journalist and editor of The Architectural Review (AR) from 1933 to 1972. The three central themes of the thesis are; firstly, the importance of Richards and the magazine to the culture of modern architecture in Britain. Building on existing scholarship that has broadened the boundaries of architectural history to include the architectural media, this thesis considers the changing role of the media within the architectural profession and what this reveals about the shifting role of architecture in British society. The second and third themes are closely related, the second covers the interrelationship between Richards' work at the AR and his other media activities, as well as the overlaps between his personal and professional lives. His writing in and editing of the AR are considered in relation to his work and that of his colleagues for the BBC, Penguin Books, in the MARS Group and within government organisations. This reflection on the media landscape, of which his career was a part, explores the wider cultural contexts of modern architecture. Similarly this study looks at Richards' friendships and his professional associations and reflects on the complex networks of people and places that made up the culture of modern architecture in Britain. The third and final theme is the definition of modernism as a series of discourses, rather than as a single idea or a particular style. Architectural culture is conceived of in terms of various collections of discourses, all vying with one another for power and authority. Modernism is one such collection of discourses, which contains Richards, his career, his friends and colleagues, their ideas, actions and feelings. Thus his career provides a chronological framework through which to trace the trajectory of the discourses of modernism in relation to alternative discourses. The thesis explores how the discourses coexisted within architectural culture, shifting in their relation with one another over time. Through this reassessment of Richards' career and his relationship to the discourses of modernism, this thesis explores fresh perspectives on the existing historical narratives of modern architecture in Britain.
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