05 November 2019

Example of Shared Creative Process at PRIVACY

Fabio Gigone and Bastian Felter Vaucanson’s approach to interdisciplinary collaboration.

Within the Versailles case team devoted to investigating notions and practices of privacy within the city of Versailles between 1682 and 1715, cand.theol. Bastian Felter Vaucanson and cand.arch. Fabio Gigone are developing two monographic Ph.D. dissertation in church history and history of architecture, respectively. Bastian’s research investigates the relation between the mystical experience of the individual and the early-modern princely ideal as it is presented in the works of the tutor to Louis XIV’s grandson, the archbishop of Cambrai, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715). Fabio’s focus is on the architectural apparatus of the château and its effects on the political and social relationships within the court.

PRIVACY strongly supports interdisciplinary research, particularly encouraging the collaboration among its scholars. In our particular case, this collaboration is triggered at different levels. On a first and basic level, the space arrangement of the work place is the first agent to allow for ongoing, fruitful exchange. The office cell we share is the primary place where inter-collegial collaborations are born and developed. The conversations we share might be described as the digesting of the input we get from hours of silent study, but they also stem from other sources of inspiration such as the display of our individual collections of books, which makes us reciprocally curious on each other’s research, or the input we get from our two colleagues in the Versailles case team, Natália da Silva Perez and Lars Cyril Nørgaard during our case team meetings. More than once has this led to flows of thought taking material shape as they blossomed on the whiteboard.

The collaboration in research has been immediately recognised by both early stage scholars as a powerful booster for the individual researcher and goes far beyond day-to-day practice. The array of activities that have been carried out by shared effort spans from workshops, exhibitions and teaching to articles, papers, et al. In these activities we have sought to test and refine the research methodologies offered to us by the Centre, and the strong encouragement we have received from our supervisors has spurred us on to contributing to the further development of the Centre as a whole. In our particular case, the encounter of the church historical perspective with the architectural one has resulted in a creative and somewhat unorthodox historical analysis that was well-received by the Society of French Historical Studies when we presented it at the Society’s annual conference in Indianapolis on April 7, 2019.

The paper was entitled “Saving the Sacred: Approaching Distance and Proximity in the Ceremonial at Versailles (1682-1715)” and relates a very specific architectural feature – the balustrade of Louis’ bedchamber – to the political-theological understanding of the king’s physical body as the place in space and time where divine will materializes. This particular collaborative process lasted 16 intense days, from the 19th of March to the 4th of April; after having agreed upon the general contour of the subject, in these two weeks we worked separately and over great distance (France and Italy), defining the reference sources to employ in order to feed the argument. The paper’s body has been built through a back and forth exchanging of 35 emails, where the sharing of referencing articles, ideas, sketches —and silences—, were followed day after day by an increasingly defined text, to conclude with the images for the tailoring of the final presentation, which occurred right before the conference.