Lauren Jacobi is Associate Professor in the History, Theory, and Criticism discipline group in MIT's Department of Architecture. Her research and teaching interests concentrate on the history of late medieval through pre-industrial Italian architecture and urbanism with an emphasis on connections that span the Mediterranean world. She applies economic and sociological concerns to studying urban growth and transformation, architectural history, and visual culture. Jacobi has received fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Kress Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, the Instituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’Arte, the American Numismatic Society, and the Morgan Library and Museum, among other organizations.
Her first book project studies the topographic location and architectural semiotics of buildings used for banking in Italy and in key trading cities where Italians had major colonies outside of their homeland during the early modern period. Her analysis of the physical structures and urban context of banks offers a clearer picture of how these buildings both shaped and were informed by contemporary cultural attitudes towards money—a highly polemical issue because it was intertwined so deeply with the Christian sin of usury. Studying economic systems and urbanistic structures is fundamental to the project. The book elucidates how the standardization of spaces used for banking and trading, as well as coined money itself, underpinned early modern networks of world trade that were informed, but not limited by, political dynamics. This timely inquiry offers a better understanding of capitalism’s contentious early history.
Jacobi’s other current research concentrates on how spatial practices extended to nebulous places in the pre-industrial world—water boundaries in ports and the spatial domain defined through maritime insurance contracts, for example. Her research opens up questions of spatial production and regulation, as well as urbanistic acculturation and distancing. This work raises issues of cultural mixing, understood through the lens of differentiation and convergence. The project therefore examines the application and problematics of hybridization.
Jacobi is the author of publications on topics ranging from the topographic location of international and local banks in Rome (Editore Edisai, 2010) to the medallic representations of Pope Paul V’s architectural projects (The Medal, 2002). She has reviewed scholarly exhibitions, including pieces for The Burlington Magazine and Tabula Quarterly online. She served as vice-president of the New York City Metro chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (2011-2013).
OCW Site: Locating Capitalism: Producing Early Modern Cities and Objects
Review, “Antico: The Golden Age of Renaissance Bronzes,” Tabula Quarterly (online publication; Summer 2012).
“The Banchi in the Rione di Ponte: Architecture and Urbanism,” Proceedings of a Conference on Early Modern Rome, 1341-1667 (Editore Edisai, 2010): 564-71.
"Medals and the Roman Projects of Pope Paul V," The Medal (Spring 2002); 3-17