Katherine Treppendahl

Independent study / James Joyce

James Joyce, Ulysses
Project by Katherine Treppendahl

This model represents my interpretation of the structural relationships within James Joyce’s Ulysses. While the novel occurs over the course of just one day, the text is lengthy, rich and exhaustive. The central story is that of salesman wandering Dublin. But revolving around and within that story are thousands of others– both internal stories developed within the novel and allusions to stories external to the text. The primary external text is, of course, Homer’s Odyssey, and the chapters  and characters in Joyce’s novel reflect scenes and characters from Homer’s story. I developed an architectural language for translating multiple aspects of the structure of the novel. This language takes into account the progression from realism to abstraction in the text, the shifting roles of and intersections between key characters, the passage of time, the interior stylistic parallels, and the reader’s journey through the text.

For example, the exterior space frame represents the overarching role of Joyce, the arranger, as well the modules of time within the text – each partition represents a different time of day. The two primary characters, Bloom and Stephen (Joyce’s Ulysses and Telemachus) are translated into different volumetric typologies. These volumes are stacked and arranged in terms of their presence, importance, and relationship within the story. The reader is represented as a pale tube snaking through these volumes. In the novel, there is a point at which the text shifts from a more conventional narrative style to a more abstract and self-conscious style. Within the model, as the reader moves into this territory, the volumes begin to break open and fracture. They are no longer whole vessels, and the “reader” is visible, moving uncertainly through this landscape.

Overall, it can be argued that the novel functions as a complex cityscape: both internally — in the narrators’ interior monologues — and externally, within the rich world of Dublin. The model is likewise an urban architecture, one that that the viewer wanders around and throughout, at times glimpsing the interior spaces, at other times, held at bay.


Katherine Treppendahl is currently an intern architect in New York City. She received her Masters of Architecture at the University of Virginia in 2012, and her Bachelors in English from the University of Georgia in 2007. In her spare time, she has been studying the intersection between literature and architecture over the past few years. This model is one of the products of these studies.