October 6 Creighton Lecture "On Sacred Styles and Materials: The Cathedrals of French Colonial Tunisia"
Program begins at 2:00 PM in Joslyn's Abbott Lecture Hall

Art History at Creighton University is pleased to present the Annual McCormick Lecture in Art History. This free public lecture is sponsored by the Department of Fine & Performing Arts and the McCormick Fund at Creighton University together with Joslyn Art Museum.



"On Sacred Styles and Materials: The Cathedrals of French Colonial Tunisia” presented by Daniel E. Coslett, Ph.D., Western Washington University, University of Washington


Tunis’ Roman Catholic monuments, in their nuanced blend of historic, local, and metropolitan French stylistic influences, sat ambiguously between imported and indigenous aesthetics. As such they stood apart from the grand civic architecture that so strongly appealed to overt historicism during the early colonial period. Functioning both physically and symbolically within their North African colonial contexts, these structures were designed to reinforce colonialist claims of political and socio-cultural legitimacy made by those presenting themselves as heirs to imperial Rome and early Christianity’s privileged regional legacy. Based on site and archival research conducted in Tunisia and France during the last decade, this paper presents the complex histories of the Cathedrals of Sts. Vincent de Paul and Olivia (Tunis, 1897) and of St. Louis IX (Carthage, 1890) from their foundation through today. In so doing the paper sheds light on the special significance of ecclesiastical architecture, the perceived sacred nature of historic styles and materials, the role played by the Catholic Church as a defacto agent of French colonialism.

DANIEL E. COSLETT is a Visiting Assistant Professor of art history at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, as well as a lecturer of architectural history and theory at the University of Washington in Seattle. His areas of expertise include modern architecture, European colonialism of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as historic preservation and heritage management. In 2017 he completed a dissertation entitled “Re-presenting Antiquity as Distinction: Pre-Arab Pasts in Tunis’ Colonial, Postcolonial and Contemporary Built Environments” at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. Since completing his Ph.D., Coslett has served as an assistant editor for The International Journal of Islamic Architecture. His edited volume, Neocolonialism and Built Heritage: Echoes of Empire in Africa, Asia, and Europe, will be published by Routledge next year.