Call for Papers

SAHANZ XXIX 2012 – Fabulation: Myth, Nature, Heritage

29th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, 5-8 July 2012

“Gould says of his Book of Fish, ‘what I write, & what here I paint are Experiment & Prophecy.’”

Ronald Bogue writes this in Deleuzian Fabulations (2010) on Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish (2002), which is based on The Book of Fish (around 1832-33) by William Buelow Gould with paintings of flora and fauna (with narratives) of the penal colony on Sarah Island, Tasmania. In Flanagan’s historical tale, the protagonist William Gould escapes the disintegrating penal colony of Sarah Island towing voluminous registers penned by the Commissariat Officer Jorgen Jorgensen. The registers are filled with Jorgensen’s elaborate fabrications of the colony, telling of its material wealth, technological accomplishments and exoticism. According to Jorgensen, Sarah Island was an extra-ordinary place; it had the largest shipyard on Australia, but also a railway system whose loop was so small it had hand-painted changing panoramas of faraway places, including a bejewelled Great Mah-Jong Hall that lured Chinese traders to gamble away their hard-won fortunes. Sarah Island, an island within an island positioned offshore from an island colony, became a place of reinvention by Europeans and reflected the aspirations of the British Empire, where natural and human histories were based on a grand Linnaean taxonomy and organised by a Benthamic panopticon.

Gould escaped with the registers to avoid Jorgensen’s fabulations —extraordinary and fanciful representations —from being discovered and taken as historical truth. He does this in order to protect penal life from some ‘other’ reality, which Gould had himself documented while preparing paintings of fish upon the orders of his commandants. Ironically, in the delirium of his escape Jogensen’s fabricated registers and his own historical accounts became confabulated in Gould’s mind.

The call for papers for SAHANZ 2012 is inspired by the relations between Bogue’s essay, Flanagan’s story, and Gould’s documentation. It takes seriously the productiveness, outcomes and implications of ‘fabulation’ for architectural history. To Bogue, Flanagan’s practice is “an experiment on the real, an engagement with the historical record and its stories, told and untold, its memories and amnesias.” As a concept which has its origins in literary criticism and devotees among critics like Haruki Murakami, Thomas Pynchon and J. M. G Le Clézio, fabulations invoke the thresholds of the real and the imagined, serious and trivial, time and space, phantasmagorical and self-evident, process and outcome, theory and practice. Fabulation challenges those who according to Barthes

“… want a text (an art, a painting, [a history]) without a shadow, without the dominant ideology; but this is to want a text without fecundity, without productivity, a sterile text … The text needs its shadows; this shadow is a bit of ideology, a bit of representation, a bit of subject; ghosts, pockets, traces, necessary clouds; subversion must produce its own chiaroscuro.” [Barthes quoted in Jorge Silvetti, ‘The Beauty of Shadows’ in K Michael Hays, Architectural Theory Since 1968, p. 280]

We invite papers on a wide range of current research, and inclusive reflections on the idea of fabulation in architectural history. How have the inheritances of architectural history – works, images, narratives, languages, tools and methods – been fabulated through our collective practices? What are the possible implications of fabulation for heritage practice that negotiates continuities with the past (often multiple pasts), and for looking forward into the future? Such ideas raise questions about gaps, or histories untold, as well as myths received through the writing and images of our architectural histories – myths that in turn raise questions about the truth-value of the past. Reflecting on the Tasmanian setting of SAHANZ2012, we also ask how these myths are fabulated or challenged by the combined presences of nature and heritage.

The Conference will comprise broad thematic sessions and open sessions:


In Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish, Jorgensen’s fabulation of Sarah Island reconstructed the small penal colony as an elaborate microcosm of the imperial setting in which it was situated. This session invites papers that explore contextual specificity – locally and within wider networks of architectural production – including: issues relating to colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, regionalism, globalisation; real and imagined geographies; cross-cultural exchanges in architectural practice, criticism, and history; indigenous nations, agency in colonial constructions, post-colonial appropriations and decolonising imperatives in landscapes, cities, buildings, interiors and pictorial representations; suburbs and suburban peripheries; migration, mobility and architecture and spatial imaginings in visual arts.


Architectural history may be understood to have it own poetic encompassing inherited theories, imperatives, practices and aesthetics, which this session seeks to explore. Poetics entails modes of engaging with the historical record, as well as speaking and writing practices connected to the cultivation of specific kinds of audiences and developed in the various forms of architectural histories (treatises, manuals, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, taxonomies, anthologies, monographs, guidebooks, lectures and architectural history courses), as well as the rethinking of architectural historiography. How do these works acquire their persuasive power? Poetics may also be understood as a linguistic practice connected to architectural representation other histories of architecture and cities – oral, fictive, and so on. This session welcomes papers that reflect upon the practices and aesthetics of architectural history.


The construction of architectural histories must engage gaps, known and unknown, in the historical record. Many histories relating to our region (and beyond) remain untold. This session thus invites contributions that open up new fields of knowledge; document that which is not yet known; and/or explore new frameworks and methodological approaches to the understanding of historical material – all of which expands the knowledge base of our discipline and our capacity to interpret it.


This session seeks to explore the thresholds of the historical imagination and the inherited myths, (stories and fabulations) in and of architectural history. What are the various forms and languages of myth-making? Who are the audiences and stakeholders for constructing and progressing fictions, and stories of ideal pasts, presents or futures – utopias and dystopias? What are the technics and mechanics of remembering and forgetting in architecture and architectural history? What are the potential implications of mainstream fictionalisations of histories for architecture? This session invites papers that reflect upon the fabulations promulgated through architectural artefacts and discourses.


When Hobart hosted the 10th National Convention of the RAIA (1960), Tasmanian Architect decried the spread of a technocratic modernism, asserting that in Tasmania “[t]he disease will find more natural enemies … in that here, we have raw, masculine nature at both our front and back doors”, and called for regionalist responses. More generally, nature has variously provided romantic, rationalist, poetic and ethical framings for urban design, architecture and architectural history. It has also been invoked as evidence to both support and challenge myth-making in architecture and architectural history. This session seeks papers that examine the realities, myths (and fabulations) of nature/culture inter-relationships, operating across time, place and scales of the built environments, from region to object.


This session explores critical practices and theories in heritage practice and management. It invites papers that address issues of authenticity in rebuilding and reconstruction; future-oriented adaptive re-use; heritage as an urban and inclusive practice which engages and admits dominant and dissonant buildings, sites, and traces; the power, potency and problems of twentieth century heritage; and the dilemmas of architecture in environments of high-value natural heritage. Papers that explore the theme of heritage either through the explication of individual case studies or through the wider context of heritage practice and/or theory are encouraged.


2012 is the bi-centennial year of the birth of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, England’s most influential early-Victorian designer and theorist. In 1888, less than four decades after Pugin’s death, John Dando Sedding, a leading Arts and Crafts architect of his time, could write that: “We should have had no Morris, no Street, no Burges, no Webb, no Bodley, no Rossetti, no Burne-Jones, no Crane, but for Pugin”, citing a galaxy of English stars in the fields of architecture and the applied arts. This session invites papers that offer fresh insights into Pugin and his influence, particularly his embrace of a gesamtkunstwerk approach to his labours. More widely, Pugin’s writings and designs, prompted a culture of Victorian innovation; advanced the power of the visual rhetoric as means of storytelling about the moralities of an imagined past; conceptualized the ideal city as a spiritual rather than a commercial enterprise; and marked the emergence of the rationalisation of form and detail (mass and ornament). Papers that consider these wider implications and speculate upon the fabulations of Pugin’s influence, 200 years on, are also welcome.


In addition to the themed sessions above, SAHANZ 2012 invites papers on new and current research for open sessions.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due by Monday 14 November and should be submitted via the Conference Paper Management website:

You will need to create a Login ID and a password to allow secure uploading of your abstract. Abstracts and accepted papers will be double blind refereed and published in the conference proceedings.

Conference Timeline:

Submission of Abstracts: 14 November 2011

Notification of Acceptance: 16 December 2011

Full Papers: 9 March 2012

Referee Reports: 12 April 2012

Final Papers: 18 May 2012

Conference: 5-8 July 2012

Conference Website:

Conference Convenors: Stuart King (, Anu Chatterjee ( & Stephen Loo