Photo of Keith Bresnahan
Photo of Keith Bresnahan
Keith Bresnahan
Associate Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

History of Architecture and Design, Histories of Emotion, Destruction of the built environment, 19th-century Visual Culture, Design and childhood, history and theory of design, craft/materials history, destruction and vandalism, atmosphere, mood, Design and childhood


I am a historian specializing in architecture, urbanism, and interior design during the 'long nineteenth century' (1789-1914), and the continuing legacies of this period. I teach in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and am currently the Graduate Program Director for the MA program in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories at OCAD U. My ongoing research centers on the social and intellectual contexts of design and the politics of architectural destruction; I'm also interested in the classical legacies of Western culture, graphic design and typography, designs for childhood, and the traditions of critical theory. At present, I am completing a book project on destruction and urban renewal in the aftermath of the Paris Commune.



1997: BA, Art History (University of Calgary)

2000: MA, Theory and Criticism (University of Western Ontario)

2007: PhD, Social and Political Thought (York University)

Awards \ Grants

Spring 2017: Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute, Berlin

2016-17: Visiting Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto

Fall 2016: Camargo Foundation Residential Fellow, Cassis, France

2013/14: SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 4A status (recommended for funding)

Summer 2012: OCADU Seed grant for research in Paris, France

Fall 2011: Mellon Visiting Scholar, Quadrant Program, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota

2008-09: SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto

2001-05: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, York University

1999-2001: Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Selected Publications


On the Commune's Ruins: Emotion and Spatial Violence in Paris, 1870-1900 (Book manuscript in-progress)

Structures of Feeling: Architecture and Sensibility in Enlightenment France (Book manuscript in-progress) 

Co-editor (with JoAnne Mancini, National University of Ireland) Architecture and Armed Conflict: The Politics of Destruction (Routledge, 2014)

Book chapters: "On Revolutionary Vandalism," in Spatial Violence, ed. Andrew Herscher and Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (Routledge, 2016).

"Remaking the Bastille: Architectural destruction and revolutionary consciousness in France, 1789-94," in Architecture and Armed Conflict (Routledge, 2014)

"Design and Kenosis, or, the architect's abdication," in Architecture is All Over, ed. Marrikka Trotter and Esther Choi (Columbia Books on Architecture, 2017)

Edited journals: Co-editor (with Martin Racine and Brian Donnelly), "Design Studies in Canada: The State of the Field", special issue of RACAR (Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review), 2015.

Articles (peer-reviewed):

"On Revolutionary Vandalism," Architectural Theory Review Vol. 19 (2014)

"Day for Night: staging 'nature' in the contemporary interior," Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture, 3. 1-2 (Spring 2012): 85–106; 

"'An Unused Esperanto': internationalism and pictographic design, 1930–1970," Design and Culture 3.1, March 2011, pp. 5–24; Housing Complexes: Neurasthenic Subjects and the Bourgeois Interior," Space and Culture. Vol. 6, no. 2, May 2003, pp. 169–177.

Review of Tamar Zinguer, Architecture in Play: Intimations of Modernism in Architectural Toys (U. Virginia Press, 2015), JSAH: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, March 2019

Review of Amy Ogata, Designing the Creative Child (U. Minnesota Press, 2012), Buildings and Landscapes, 2014

Review of Charlie Hailey, Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space (MIT Press, 2009), Design and Culture, 2010; 

Review of Anthony Vidler, Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism (MIT Press, 2008). RACAR, Winter 2009; 

Review of Sylvia Lavin, Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture (MIT Press, 2005). RACAR, June 2006.

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

Editorial Board member, RACAR (Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review);

co-founder, Canadian Design Studies Network

Member, Design Studies Forum; Design History Society; Society of Architectural Historians; Universities Art Association of Canada; Society for French Historical Studies