Wednesday, July 1, 2009

154. Thomas Jefferson and Chinese Architecture

At the 18th World History Assocation annual conference in Salem State College, Dr. Wang presented the topic, Thomas Jefferson and Chinese Architecture on June 28, 2009. In the following you will find the main content of his presentation. Jeffersonian Style has become a classical building style in the architectural history of the world. Today the Jeffersonian Style is still used and loved by architects. Since Thomas Jefferson created his Jeffersonian Style by incorporating Chinese architectural designs such as the railing below the dome and surrounding walkways, it has become popular throughout the history and the world. However, it was not primarily out of architectural reasons that Jefferson made this style. His building style was a symbolic of a newly formed society/nation trying to break free of its past. The virtual consensus among the founding generation of American statesmen was to “pursue a political destiny separate from Europe.” Jefferson, who believed that a building was not merely a walled structure, but a metaphor for American ideology, and the process of construction was equal to the task of building a nation, used his style as an effort to form the identity of North America. Jeffersonian Style expressed the American desire to break cultural and political ties to Europe.

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