Over the past couple of decades, the study of modern architectural history has undergone major questioning and revision. This seminar combines a focus on contemporary historiographic methods with critical analyses of recent writings on the architecture of the past two centuries. Among the methodological and epistemological issues to be addressed are periodization and mapping, disciplinary definition, canon formation, archives and evidence, and narration. These problematics, which are in turn bound up with new intellectual discourses and developments internal and external to architecture, are explored in a series of classes that alternate readings of theoretical texts and discussions of topical case studies. The latter are selected as representative of current pressure points, from race and gender to coloniality and ecology. The aim is not just to survey new trends in architectural historiography but to test their efficacy and contrast them with previous approaches. How do these reframings alter our received views of modern architecture? In what ways do they enlarge our knowledge and understanding? How do they reflect present-day ideologies and predispositions? The seminar welcomes several guest scholars. It also devotes two sessions to workshop-format presentations in which students share their current writing and exchange comments on each other’s work. The term project is a research paper of ±8,000 words on a topic of individual choosing that foregrounds and engages with questions of both method and modern architecture. Also ARCH 552 and ARCH 554.

Prerequisite: strong background in architectural history.

All Semesters

Spring 2022
Critical Methodologies in Architecture History
Joan Ockman