Job title: Lecturer in Architectural History

Role: Programme Director, PhD in Architectural History


Office address: Minto House, 3.53

Contact time: Tue, 9am-11am (by appointment)

Research outputs: Dr Elizabeth Petcu on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Elizabeth J. Petcu is an historian of early modern art and architectural culture in Europe and Latin America. Her work probes the interplay between architecture and other media as well as strategies for imitating nature during the emergence of global architecture. Elizabeth's scholarship on architecture's intercultural dynamics draws on a mixed training in the Anglophone and German spheres. After obtaining her Ph.D. from the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University in 2015, she taught for two years at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Prior to this, Elizabeth held Samuel H. Kress and Fulbright Fellowships at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, as well as curatorial research positions at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and Princeton University Art Museum.

Elizabeth's pedagogy empowers students to teach each other and themselves through critical encounters with historical sources. She leads courses on early modern architectural culture, theory, and historiography. She also supports student research projects from the undergraduate to the Ph.D. level in the areas of European architectural history as well as the history of global architectural exchange.

Elizabeth's research examines modes of exchange across architectural cultures and between architecture and other disciplines such as the natural sciences and the figural arts. Elizabeth has articles (published and forthcoming) in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and 21: Inquiries into Art History, and the Visual. Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte und visuellen Kultur. Elizabeth is completing her first book, The Edifice Undone: Architectural Practices in Wendel Dietterlin's Renaissance. The book probes how the Architectura treatise of Wendel Dietterlin the Elder (c. 1550-1599) established a novel rapport between the practices of architecture and the techniques of other arts and sciences that shaped the seventeenth-century rise of empirical thought in northern Europe, and transformed architecture from the sixteenth-century Rhineland to seventeenth-century Peru. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Elizabeth served as Robert H. Lehman Fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. There she began developing her second book project: Nature and Imitation in Early Modern Architecture.

Current PhD students

  • Sebastiano Serlio’s Architectural Principles in Britain, 1600-1750
  • Illuminated Prints: Hand-Coloured Woodcuts and Engravings in the Time of Dürer
  • 'The Tricolour, Shield, and Cross of Savoy: "Sabaudian Medievalism," the Risorgimento, and Neo-Medieval Architecture in Italy, c.1814–1864.'

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

  • Early Modern Architectural Culture in Europe and Latin America
  • Historiography of Renaissance and Baroque Architecture
  • Early Modern Architecture and Intermediality​
  • Architecture and Nature in the Premodern Age