This seminar seeks to address the increasing expectation that architecture more directly address the social and political problems of today: income inequality, racial division, religious persecution, gender identity and rights, and ecological crisis, to name a few. Students speculate on ways in which the design of buildings and objects can be more socially and politically impactful and if there are other ways to discuss these issues rather than relying on standard critical-theory tropes that have governed architecture’s social ambitions for decades. Instead of relying on dry PowerPoint presentations or abstract, intangible discussions, in this seminar all presentations, brainstorming, ideation, and think-tank-style discussions are done exclusively by engaging with physical objects. Students conduct preliminary research on historic examples of the politicization of objects, largely using the Victoria and Albert Museum’s recent Disobedient Objects exhibition as a collective starting point, to position subsequent discussions related to selected writings by Jacques Rancière, Graham Harman, Elaine Scarry, Steven Shaviro, the Laboria Cuboniks Xenofeminist Collective, and others. Concepts and movements addressed include, but are not limited to, Dissensus/Aisthesis, Xenofeminism, Object-Oriented Ontology, Accelerationism, and Afrofuturism. All assignments involve the production of physical objects with the exception of students who opt to fulfill the History and Theory elective requirement through the writing of a fifteen-page paper instead of the production of a final object. Enrollment limited to ten.


All Sections and Semesters

1239a
Fall 2019
Theory Through Objects: Political Form
Mark Foster Gage
1239a
Fall 2016
Activist Form
Mark Foster Gage