Architectural Involutions

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3659-5
Publication Date
January 2018
Page Count
336 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Architectural Involutions

Writing, Staging, and Building Space, c. 1435-1650
Mimi Yiu

Winner of the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars

Taking the reader on an inward journey from façades to closets, from physical to psychic space, Architectural Involutions offers an alternative genealogy of theater by revealing how innovations in architectural writing and practice transformed an early modern sense of interiority. The book launches from a matrix of related “platforms”—a term that in early modern usage denoted scaffolds, stages, and draftsmen’s sketches—to situate Alberti, Shakespeare, Jonson, and others within a landscape of spatial and visual change.

As the English house underwent a process of inward folding, replacing a logic of central assembly with one of dissemination, the subject who negotiated this new scenography became a flashpoint of conflict in both domestic and theatrical arenas. Combining theory with archival findings, Mimi Yiu reveals an emergent desire to perform subjectivity, to unfold an interior face to an admiring public. Highly praised for its lucid writing, comprehensive supplementary material, and engaging tone, Architectural Involutions was the winner of the 2016 MLA Prize for Independent Scholars.

About the Author

MIMI YIU is an assistant professor of English at Georgetown University.


“Mimi Yiu’s Architectural Involutions is an expansive impressive, and largely interdisciplinary study. Many recent books have touched on related topics…but this one reads from architecture and space forward rather than seeks answers about the theater foremost.” —Renaissance Quarterly

"Mimi Yiu’s Architectural Involutions: Writing, Staging, and Building Space, c. 1435–1650 combines theoretical sophistication with in-depth close readings and archival work. The notion of architecture’s impact on the early modern sense of psychic space and interiority is original and convincingly developed in this well-written and well-illustrated work. Yiu offers an exciting approach to understanding the architectural theories that reshaped the social and practical modes of building and design." —Modern Language Association