The past two decades have seen a burgeoning of scholarship on the culture and practice of global architecture from World War II to the millennium, but much remains to be investigated and rethought with regard to this recent period, especially in light of the crises we are facing today. This research seminar focuses on the impact of ideological conflicts, political and economic upheavals, technological and environmental changes, and social, cultural, and intellectual paradigm shifts on postwar architecture and cities around the world. Members of the seminar will carry out a semester-long research project on a topic of their choosing, leading to a substantial term paper. Sessions will combine lectures with presentations of research-in-progress and discussions of primary documents, critical interpretations, and background readings. Classes will be framed as much as possible in relation to the specific interests of the seminar members and around issues of particular relevance and resonance right now. Students may choose to work on historical developments related to geopolitical contexts like the Cold War, decolonization, and the pursuit of postcolonial identities; issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and environment as these have played out in relation to built space; urban crises and their effects on the health and well-being of cities, regions, and populations; the transition from welfare-state regimes to market economies; the emergence of new industrial and postindustrial technologies and the changes they have wrought on production, organization, and labor; and much else. In returning to the second half of the twentieth century, our aim is to locate a “usable past”— genealogical knowledge that can inform our approach to problems of architecture and the built environment in the present and future. It is said that history belongs to the victors. Are there other ways to read and write history? Enrollment limited to 12.
Note: Those interested in taking the seminar should come to the first class with a preliminary idea of the research topic they wish to pursue during the semester.