Architecture: A History of Its Practices and Discourses, Antiquity to Postmodernism

This course is a two-part introductory survey to the history of Western architecture. Although the organizing principle is chronological, beginning with the pre-historical period and culminating with the postmodernism, each lecture will raise methodological questions that transcend the particular architectural projects under analysis. Topics to be discussed in the first part, covering antiquity through the Baroque, include: history and historicity; technology and the social world; the emergence of public and private spheres; urbanism and urban development; modes of cultural and intellectual transmission; religion, politics, and the state; and architecture’s relationship with other artistic practices. Topics to be discussed in the second part, covering the Enlightenment through postmodernism, include: the conflicts between public and private life; gender and subjectivity; urbanism and urban development; modes of cultural and intellectual transmission; religion, politics, and science; capitalism, nationalism, and democracy; and architecture’s relationship with other artistic practices. Each lecture and discussion will cover a specific historical moment, examining the means by which the cultural, social, and political forces of a time and place helped shape the formal and intellectual practices undertaken by architects and builders. We will focus on analyzing buildings through drawings, texts, and images as a means of “reading” these forces through the media of architecture itself. By thinking history through form, students will be introduced to a disciplinary mode of analysis that offers philosophical, theoretical, and political agency to the built environment. Through architectural form (and the practices and discourses that make it possible), how do buildings, cities, and ideas operate both with and against the cultural forces of its period?  These inquiries will culminate in a formal analysis group project to be presented to the class at the end of the course.

Co-taught with Olga Touloumi and Jason Nguyen, Summer 2012, Summer 2011, Summer 2010: Harvard University.