Photo of Peter Coffman

Peter Coffman

Associate Professor

Degrees:B.A. (University of Toronto), B.A.A. (Ryerson University), M.A. (York University), Ph.D. (Queen’s University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 8797
Email:peter_coffman@carleton.ca
Office:404 St. Patrick's Building

I am an architectural historian whose fate was sealed many years ago when I caught my first glimpse of Canterbury Cathedral from a train window. My infatuation with the Middle Ages gradually expanded to include later re-inventions of medieval forms – particularly Canadian Gothic Revival architecture, which is now my main area of research. An overarching theme in my current work is the exploration of the many cultural and political meanings that have been attached to the Gothic style from the twelfth century to the present day.

As Supervisor of History and Theory of Architecture (HTA) at Carleton, I oversee a program that explores the history, meaning and social significance of the built environment, and how it both reflects and shapes human circumstances. We also study the theoretical foundations of architectural movements ranging from Antiquity to the present day. The interdisciplinary strength of Carleton University, plus the spectacular research resources of the City of Ottawa, make HTA an exciting place to be.

I am also President of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, a scholarly society devoted to the study of all aspects of the built environment in Canada. We meet annually in diverse Canadian locations to share our research (over the last three years in Lunenburg, Toronto, and Yellowknife), and publish a journal (The Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada) that is the only academic periodical devoted to the study of Canadian architecture. We also produce regular small pieces for a section called “Hidden Heritage” in Canada’s History magazine (formerly called The Beaver). I encourage all students interested in our built environment to become active in the Society.

I have a diverse background and eclectic interests. I was a photographer in a previous (professional) life – indeed, I may be the only architectural historian ever to have won a music award for photography. My most recent solo exhibitions were Anglicana Tales, an exhibition of architectural photography at the Dalhousie Art Gallery (2010), and Camino, at ViewPoint Gallery in Halifax (2009).

(Profile photograph by Joseph Szostak)

Publications:

“The Gibbsian Tradition in Nova Scotia”, Architecture in the Classical Tradition: Essays in Honour of Pierre du Prey, New York: Harvey Miller (in press)

“The Canadian Churches of Stephen C. Earle”, Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, volume 38, no. 1, 67-74 (2013)

“The Introduction of Ecclesiology to Nova Scotia”, Studies in Victorian Architecture and Design Vol. 4: Ecclesiology Abroad, London: The Victorian Society, 78-93 (2012)

Newfoundland Gothic, Montréal: Institut du patrimoine, Université du Québec à Montréal (2008)

“William Grey: ‘Missionary’ of Gothic in Newfoundland” Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, Vol. 32, No. 1, 39-48 co-authored with Shane O’Dea (2007)

“St. John’s Anglican Cathedral and the Beginnings of Ecclesiological Gothic in Newfoundland” Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, Vol. 31, No. 1, 3-22 (2006)

“St. Anne’s Anglican Church and its Patron” Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, Vol. 30, No. 1-2, 17-26 (2005)

“Casa Loma and the Gothic Imagination” Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, Vol. 28, no. 3/4, 2004, 3-12 (2004)

“Eadburg of Repton and Southwell Minster: Norman Shrine-Church for a Saxon Saint?” J. Goering, F. Guardiani, G. Silano, Eds., Saints and the Sacred (New York, Ottawa, Toronto: 2001), 105-122 (2001)

“Blyth Priory: A Romanesque Church in Nottinghamshire” co-authored with Malcolm Thurlby, Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. 105, 57-71 (2001)

“The Influence of Southwell Minster on Romanesque Churches in Nottinghamshire” co-authored with Malcolm Thurlby, Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. 104, 37-46 (2000)

“The Romanesque East End of Southwell Minster” British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions: Southwell and Nottinghamshire (Leeds), 1-12 (1998)

“The Romanesque Rib-Vaults of Southwell Minster” Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. 98, 38-48 (1994)

Current and Upcoming Courses:

ARTH 1200: Introduction to Architectural History

ARTH 2608: History and Theory of Architecture

ARTH 2202: Medieval Architecture and Art

FYSM (First-year Seminar) 1509: The Gothic Imagination

Recent Academic Awards:

Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship

Phyllis Lambert Prize

Governor-General’s Academic Gold Medal

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship

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I invite you to explore some images of Canadian and Medieval European architecture that features in my research and teaching. (The links will launch a pop out window, click on the small “X” in the upper right of the image to close the window.)

Medieval European Architecture

Canadian Churches