Carter Manny Award

  • Waters and Welfare: Rivers, Infrastructure, and the Territorial Imagination in Grand Ducal Tuscany, 1549–1609
    Caroline E. Murphy

Gherardo Mechini, Map of the Chio Valley in Castiglion Fiorentino showing the Celone and Vingone Rivers, ca. 1580–1620. Ink and watercolor on paper, 345 x 470 mm. Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Piante dei Capitani di Parte Guelfa, Cartoni, XX/20. Courtesy the Ministero della Cultura, Archivio di Stato di Firenze

Caroline E. Murphy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture + Planning, Department of Architecture, History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program, is the recipient of the 2021–22 Carter Manny Writing Award.

During the early modern period, Europe’s rising territorial states established permanent and systematic techniques for designing the natural environment. To center this history within early modern architecture, this dissertation examines state efforts to control the aquatic landscape and engineer a system of infrastructure for hydraulic navigation in early ducal Tuscany between ca. 1549 and 1609. Organized around case studies that chart attempts by the Medici government and its public works bureaucracies to know, manage, and reshape territorial waterways, especially along the region’s principal Arno River corridor, this project first analyzes the aspirations and imaginaries of the various actors involved in the duchy’s infrastructural enterprises in the landscape, and then traces how the state’s expanded hydraulic interventions informed a political-economic theory of territorial design. Ultimately, the project posits the emergence of a distinct improvement ideology in late-Renaissance Italy, in which the management of infrastructure, environment, and economy were intimately linked.

Caroline E. Murphy is a doctoral candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research examines the history of architecture, infrastructure planning, and environmental engineering in the context of state formation and political economy in early modern Europe, with a focus on Italy. Murphy’s work has benefitted from the support of fellowships and grants from MIT’s Office of Graduate Education, Department of Architecture, International Science and Technology Initiatives, and Graduate Student Council; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and most recently, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institut, which she joined as a doctoral fellow in 2019 to pursue dissertation research in Italy. Before commencing doctoral studies, Murphy received a SMArchS degree from MIT and a bachelor’s in art history and architectural studies from the University of Toronto.