Spring 2018

Advanced Topics in Modern Architecture: The Perversions of Modern Architecture
Modern architecture was never straightforward. Despite the surface rhetoric of rationality, clarity and efficiency, modern architects were engaged with everything that escapes rationality: sexuality, violence, exoteric philosophies, occultism, disease, the psyche, pharmacology, extraterrestrial life, artificial intelligence, chance, the primitive, the fetish, etc. Through a series of case studies from the early twentieth century till today, of both mainstream figures and misfits, the class will explore the backwaters of modern architecture to reveal the astonishing richness and eccentricity of the field.
Instructors: Beatriz Colomina
Experimenting in Dark Times: 19th C African American Literature and Culture
This interdisciplinary course explores the intersecting worlds of late 19th century African American literature, technology, aesthetics, and politics. Although this period is commonly theorized as the "Nadir," or "dark point," of Black life, it was in fact a moment of artistic and social experimentation, as black artists and intellectuals traversed a range of media to imagine new futures. We will investigate this overlooked cultural moment and develop an understanding of black experimental writing's roots. In design studio, students will design historically experimental urban projects around the text's investigated in the weekly seminar.
Instructors: V. Mitch McEwen, Autumn M. Womack
Imagined Cities
An undergraduate seminar about the urban experiences and representations of the modern city as society. Beginning with the premise that the "soft city" of ideas, myths, symbols, images, and psychic expressions is as important as the "hard city" of bricks and mortar, this course explores the experiences and imaginations of modern cities in different historical contexts. Among the cities we will examine are Manchester, London, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Algiers, Bombay, and Hong Kong. The course will use a variety of materials, but will focus particularly on cinema to examine different imaginative expressions of the urban experience.
Instructors: Gyan Prakash
Nature and Infrastructure in South Asia
South Asia is often imagined as a chaotic place where infrastructure is in a constant battle against the forces of nature. Monsoon rains erode roads, summer heat shuts down power grids, winter snow closes vehicular access, while dry riverbeds open new routes. On the contrary, infrastructure is also imagined as the only means by which the vagaries of nature and geography can be overcome. How then, can we understand these nebulous terms upon which a utopian imagination of the future is grounded?
Instructors: Ateya A. Khorakiwala
New Orleans at 300: Invention & Reinvention in an American City
As it commemorates its tercentennial, this course explores the history of what has been described as an "impossible but inevitable city" over three centuries. Settled on perpetually shifting swampland at the foot of one of the world's great waterways, this port city served as an outpost of three empires and a gateway linking the N. American heartland with the Gulf Coast, Caribbean, and Atlantic World. From European and African settlement through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will consider how race, culture, and the environment have defined the history of the city and its people.
Instructors: Joshua B. Guild
Performing the City: Race and Protest in 1960s Trenton and Princeton
Through original research and creative process, this seminar immerses students in overlapping histories of race, protest, political mobilization and violence in 1960s Trenton and Princeton. Students will contribute to an archive, conduct interviews and make maps, and then use their research to create performance walks on campus and in Trenton. By combining disciplines, the course addresses questions such as: How can we change a place by walking through it with new knowledge? How do the imprints of various, even conflicting histories, impact the built environment? After the semester, students' final project tours will be offered regularly.
Instructors: Alison Ellen Isenberg, Aaron Landsman
We know that we must cease using fossil fuels with all due haste if the planet is to avert a climate catastrophe, and yet the odds of making this transition seem long. This is due not only to the political clout of Big Oil, but also to the ways in which oil saturates every aspect of life, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. Yet neither the dazzling benefits nor the dramatic damages of this ubiquitous petroculture are evenly distributed. Surveying literature, film, music and the visual arts, this course renders the material and social circuits of petroculture visible that they might be better challenged and transformed.
Instructors: Ashley James Dawson
Poverty in America
This course investigates poverty in America in historical and contemporary perspective. We will explore central aspects of poverty, including low-wage work and joblessness, housing and neighborhoods, crime and punishment, and survival and protest. Along the way, we will examine the cause and consequences of poverty; study the lived experience of severe deprivation and material hardship; evaluate large-scale anti-poverty programs with an eye toward what worked and what didn¿t; and engage with normative debates about the right to housing, living wages, just punishment, and other matters pertaining to American life below the poverty line.
Instructors: Matthew Desmond, Kathryn Edin
Research in Urbanism: Whatever Happened to Urbanism?
In three essays written in 1994, "Bigness, or the problem of Large Manifesto," "Whatever Happened to Urbanism?" and "The Generic City," Koolhaas blames architects for ignoring the facts of urban existence, its increasing complexity, formlessness, incessant flux and variations. And he mocks city planners, likening them to chess players who have lost to computers, threatened by processes that go on of their own accord expanding towards infinity. Taking Rem Koolhaas' statements as a framework, this course asks what has happened to architectural research on `Urbanism' since the 1970s?
Instructors: M. Christine Boyer
Technology and the City: the architectural implications of the networked urban landscape
The seminar explores the implications of technologically networked cities for architectural programming and the design of spaces and places, including: 1) how information technology is reshaping the nature of architectural programming and our ideas of spaces, places and community; 2) how programs for spaces, buildings, places, and the city are being transformed by the increasing mobility, fluidity, and "blurring" of activities in space; and 3) the history of ideas that shape our understanding of technology and urbanism, programming and architecture: the networked global city; the sentient city; smart cities; big data; and hybrid places.
Instructors: Andrew Laing
The Modern Environmental Imagination: People, Place, Planet
This course explores the history of the environmental imagination from the Age of Exploration of early modern Europe to the global environmental politics of today. We will trace the ways in which people have imagined themselves and nature have shifted over time, and how these changes have helped shape science and politics in the modern world. The course also examines more recent efforts in the arts and sciences to re-imagine humans and nature in order to grapple with the rapidly changing world of contemporary global environmental politics, with a particular focus on the challenges of urbanization, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Instructors: Chad Louis Monfreda
The Port of New Orleans: Culture and Climate Change
New Orleans is decades ahead of any other U.S. city with respect to climate change. The city's culture embodies exuberance and improvisation, and inspires confidence, openness, and collaboration. These qualities, married with scientific inquiry, may be a strategy for the city's survival. Visiting scholars and artists show how cooperation between cultural and scientific communities can provide valuable, sustainable strategies. The class will spend Spring Break in New Orleans visiting sites of artistic and scientific intervention. Students will create models, media, and other creative works in response to research data.
Instructors: Jeffrey Whetstone
Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure: Environmental Challenges of Urban Sprawl
As part of the search for solutions to climate, water and energy challenges in a rapidly urbanizing world, it is crucial to understand and reassess the role of exurban sprawl in the environment. This interdisciplinary course aims to add theoretical, pragmatic and cultural dimensions to scientific, technological, and policy aspects of current environmental challenges, in an effort to bridge the environmental sciences, urbanism and the humanities
Instructors: Mario Isaac Gandelsonas
Wall Street and Silicon Valley: Place in the American Economy
This course examines two places that play an outsized role in the American economy: Wall Street and Silicon Valley. They are distinct and similarly enduring locations. They embody a divide between urban and suburban, East Coast and West Coast, skyscrapers and office parks, tradition and innovation, conservative and liberal. Despite the ubiquity of electronic trading, firms still congregate in Lower Manhattan. Tech workers fight traffic to maintain a presence in Mountain View. What makes these places endure? How do their histories, architecture, economic dynamics, and distinct cultures shape them as places?
Instructors: Aaron Peter Shkuda