Dept of History of Art | Staff | Teaching staff | Leslie Topp | Current research interests
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Current research interests

My research concerns architecture (including buildings, theory, interiors and urbanism) in social and cultural context. My first book Architecture and Truth in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (2004) explored the many meanings of architectural honesty in early modernism, and reinterpreted four iconic Viennese buildings with a view to their use and reception.

My current research focuses on the connections between psychiatry, architecture and visual culture:

I have a developing research interest in single rooms, from cells, to bedrooms, offices, and studies.  In 2012 I chaired an academic session on the theme of single rooms at the annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians in Buffalo, New York. In 2015, I received a mid-career award from the Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund for the project 'Isolation and the single room in psychiatric architecture, Europe and North America, 1840-1914'. In 2018 I published the article 'Single Rooms, Seclusion and the Non-Restraint Movement in British Asylums, 1838-1844' in Social History of Medicine.

I was a visiting fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Queen's University in March 2018 and at the University of Cambridge Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) in the Spring Term of 2012.

I am a founding member and past director of the Architecture Space and Society Centre (ASSC) at Birkbeck, which brings together scholars from early and modern periods interested in architecture, landscape and the designed environment in social and historical context.

Between 2014 and 2017, I served as Exhibitions Review Editor at the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (U.S.)