History of Design, Architecture & Urban Issues
This course aims to equip students with a working knowledge of design and its discourses during the modern era, from 1650 to the present. It is not a survey; rather, the course is framed as a series of encounters with the history of design, encounters that, taken together, will serve as a suitable foundation both for engaging in design debates and for researching particular topics in depth. Furthermore, while architecture, urban design, and the design of objects are often studied separately—partitioned according to contemporary disciplinary boundaries—in fact, the three fields have historically been conjoined in their operations and their discourses, and, accordingly, this course will treat them together.
The course begins with analysis of design and its discourses during The Enlightenment, followed by the profound impact of the industrial revolution on cities, buildings, and objects. Then students will engage Modernism and its legacy, both in hegemonic and in alternate, less-enfranchised manifestations. These historical wayposts will be considered through the traces of particular designs, including not only things that were constructed and manufactured, but also drawings and other images, as well as written texts that have engaged, provoked, prescribed, or proscribed the designs. In turn, these historical artifacts and the arenas in which they were produced will be filtered through a series of interpretive models, including Foucaultian analysis, orientalist critique, gender and queer theory, nationalist and subaltern criticisms, and other methods of analysis essential to contemporary understandings of the history of design.