This seminar addresses different understandings over the past century associated with the concept of abstraction, specifically how it relates to aesthetics in art and architecture. While abstraction is one of the most commonly used words to describe the art and architecture of modernity, it is not always clear how this quality of abstraction operates. Through readings and discussions the course covers the development of abstract art in the early part of the twentieth century, the arguments of “medium specificity” beginning with the middle of the century, changing notions inherited from Pop art and minimalism, and the role of abstraction in contemporary work. Throughout these inquiries into art theory and practice, there is an emphasis on how abstraction as an aesthetic quality differs from abstraction as an epistemological structure or an ethical ideal. Emphasized is how architecture is influenced by, and differs from, aesthetic discourse in the other arts. Each student is required to research and write a fifteen-page paper focused on a specific aesthetic investigation in relation to the themes of the course. Limited enrollment.