Note: Please refer to the current course offering schedule for a list of the current academic year course offerings. For expanded course descriptions and grade breakdown details, please refer to our mini-calendar.
Open to advanced students only, this course offers the highly motivated student an opportunity to pursue intensive study pertaining to a theme emanating from culture and its expression on his or her own under the guidance of an instructor.
Examines the specific role that art and artists have played in selected social movements.
Probes the complex relationship between architecture and social/cultural change in the 20th and 21st centuries with an emphasis on specific architectural "visions" and their intended/unintended consequences.
Modern architecture and design has often been based on identifiable visions and dreams of a future utopia made possible through good design and careful planning. Indeed, many architects and designers depict themlselves as visionaries capable of positivelyltering the social and cultural structures that dictate the course of everyday life. This course will probe the relationship between such visions and their intended or unintended results in terms of improving or seriously damaging the cultural fabrics of cities, towns, communities and individuals. The central focus will be on architects, designers, movements, projects and critics of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as the Bauhaus School, the Archigram Group, the International Style, Jane Jacobs, Leon Krier, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid.
The course will be structured as a seminar, with a selection of case studies and readings serving as the platform for discussion and debate. Among the central issue to be probed, are the political and ethical questions raised by deliberate attempts to "remodel" societies through architectural/design models and practices. Can better design make the world into a better place? While there are many examples of failures that could be used to negate such optimism, there are also many instances where architectural/design visions have indeed made significant and positive alternations to social and cultural life. Given contemporary concerns over the environment, the role of architecture and design is particularly important in that it provides one context through which social and cultural structures (and the habits and behaviours associated with those structures) could potentially be reconfigured to decrease humanity's negative impact on the environment.
Probes the role of pleasure, desire and power in contemporary consumer culture, especially around objects of consumption, such as so-called designer goods or iconic products such as the Kitchenaid mixer or the Ipod.
Investigates the employment of the created environment and other expressions of culture for propagandistic purposes, meant to advance privileged ideologies in politics, religion, and social interchange. Discusses examples chosen from different eras and communities, including modern and contemporary applications.
The underlying project of the course is the analysis of how we make meaning through art forms. More specifically, we will investigate the literary, music, and visual cultures of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to examine what we could call, with hindsight, a burgeoning interdisciplinary and interartistic inclination. The course contextualizes how and why this interdisciplinary impetus occurs during the period, as well as how such crossovers between artistic forms contribute to the generation of new modes of cultural material. Issues to be explored include: questions about visual culture, such as the nature of images and the crucial role that "looking" plays in societies; how the aural provides alternatives to, interacts with, and/or destabilizes the visual; and, how media that combine the visual and aural achieve their efficacy. These concerns will be problematized by overarching questions about gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nation, and class.