Publications

2017
Toward a Cultural Ecology of Architectural Glass in Early Modern Northern Europe
Ng, Morgan. “Toward a Cultural Ecology of Architectural Glass in Early Modern Northern Europe.” Art History 40, no. 3 (2017): 496–525. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, northern Europeans witnessed remarkable experiential transformations in their secular architecture resulting from the proliferation of a once rare material: transparent, colourless window glass. This essay traces the aesthetic effects occasioned by the new relationship between early modern glazed spaces and their surrounding environments, introducing the concept of synthetic vernacularism to describe the dynamic geographical factors that shaped the local use of this industrial material in northern Europe. By allowing builders in frigid climates to simulate the open, light-suffused spaces found in classical architecture, glass facilitated the site-specific reinvention of a foreign style. It also fed the ever-growing thirst for interior illumination in bustling commercial cities, which in turn engendered culturally specific modes of visual perception and expression. Before the global triumph of architectural modernism, the localized application of glass constituted a regional ecology in the early modern built environment.
2016
New Light on Francesco De Marchi (1504–1576) and His Treatise on Fortification
Ng, Morgan. “New Light on Francesco De Marchi (1504–1576) and His Treatise on Fortification.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 58, no. 3 (2016): 403–10. Publisher's Version
2015
Collage, Architectural Inscription, and the Aesthetics of Iconoclasm in Jacques Perret's 'De fortifications et artifices' (1601)
Ng, Morgan. “Collage, Architectural Inscription, and the Aesthetics of Iconoclasm in Jacques Perret's 'De fortifications et artifices' (1601).” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 45, no. 3 (2015): 573-94. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Taking the case of a late Renaissance treatise on Huguenot architecture, this essay explores the potentials of collage as an expression of confessional contestation in the wake of the French Wars of Religion. The book’s hybrid imagery bears a formal language of cutting, removal, and addition, which evokes the confessional violence that precipitated in this period at the scale of the built environment. Illustrated plates depict open-plan temples with their ceilings and floors cut away, as if to pictorially reenact the dismantling of rood screens and liturgical furnishings in Catholic churches during episodes of iconoclastic purification. The same pages feature Calvinist Psalms and pious sayings that were once chanted and sung by French Protestants, as well as inscribed and layered in abundance on the walls of their churches and homes. In this mixed verbal-visual form, the medium of early modern collage was operative in a plurality of sensory registers and at disparate physical scales.

Recipient of the Nancy Lyman Roelker Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference.
2013
Milton’s maps
Ng, Morgan. “Milton’s maps.” Word & Image 29, no. 4 (2013): 428-42. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Cartography’s ascendance in the early modern period as a universal form of visual communication profoundly destabilized earlier modes of literary and iconographic expression. Milton’s Paradise Lost, as this essay demonstrates, was a poetic response to this representational upheaval. More than offering an ekphrastic rendition of contemporary pictorial practices, Milton structurally “remapped” both scripture and classical epic to produce a literary work that accorded with new standards of representational authenticity. Close analysis of the poet’s long-neglected cartographic sources, alongside key passages of Paradise Lost, reveals such visual–textual exchanges at two perceptual scales. On the global scale of its narrative form, the poem exhibits a fantastically nonlinear temporal structure that mirrors the complex display of information on English bible maps. On a closer descriptive scale, Milton’s rich depictions of Edenic abundance draw from new standards of estate surveying to present Adam’s garden as the original prototype for rural property.

Recipient of the 2015 Schulman and Bullard Article Prize from the Association of Print Scholars.