Amy Chang

Amy Chang

Graduate Fellow
Naming, Natio, & Seeing Style: Linguistic Theory, Architectural Style, & National Identity in the Crown of Castile
Amy Chang


Amy Chang is a PhD Candidate at Harvard University where she studies the art and architecture of the Global Spanish Empire under the direction of Felipe Pereda. She previously received an MA from Columbia University and a BA from Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation focuses on the interpretation and reception of Andalusian and Philippine Islamic architecture within the Hapsburg Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the formation of the idea of national styles. She is interested in the impact of cultural minorities on conceptualizing ‘empire,’ and in translation, creolization, assimilation, and foreignness, as well as the formation of aesthetic identities in the arts and architecture of the early modern Hispanic world.


Project Summary

In the sixteenth century, the question of how to describe Spain’s palimpsestic architectural inheritance was active and fraught, for a Crown which had so voraciously consumed Islamic lands from Andalusia to the Philippines now sought to define itself as always having been Roman and Christian. Thus, when Diego de Sagredo published his 1526 architectural treatise and proposed a Spanish Order, he was responding not only to the valorization of the Tuscan Order, but to a hunger for architectural evidence of an essentially Spanish national character to be found in the pure forms of Antiquity. Histories that followed Sagredo's went further, and some interpreted Islamic architectural remains as Phoenician, Visigoth, or Roman. This project asks to what extent Islamic elements were legible as such to early modern viewers in Spain and Italy, and whether Spanish architects and theorists differed from their Italian counterparts in their interpretation of Antiquity due to differing perceptions of what was Roman. It will examine period descriptions of Islamic and Islamicate architecture within the Spanish holdings in Italy, Andalusia, and the Philippines, considering them in relation to the search for identity in history writing and debates on the status of the vernacular in the Iberian and Italian peninsulas. Ultimately, it will investigate how architectural imaginaries of national styles were constructed in descriptions of Islamic and Islamicate monuments in early modern Italy and Spain.