Buildings, Texts, and Contexts

This course presents a selected range of concepts developed by philosophers, historians, and theorists to explain the production and experience of architecture, and the historical background necessary to understand those concepts. While this course is part of the six-module sequence, \”Buildings, Texts, and Contexts,\” it is the specialized field of theory and its use in architectural discourse that is its primary subject. The course begins with the persistent dilemma of theoretical-historical thought (represented here by concepts from Kant and Hegel): is art an autonomous form or is it determined by its historical context? The course then presents the uses and critiques of the Kantian and Hegelian systems in the formation of critical theory in the middle of the past century. The development of critical theory is traced up to the present, especially the concepts of reification, ideology, and abstraction that were formed through a contact with modernism and have continued relevance for the present day. The course reviews structuralist models of signification and the deconstructionist critique of meaning. It traces the shift from a semiotic or structuralist model of signification to notions of diagram and schizo-analysis. A typical week pairs a theoretical text with a text that uses related theoretical concepts in an architectural case. In the lectures, selected architectural cases will provide further instances of interpretive practice. Requirements: two lectures per week plus one discussion section per week; readings, prepared discussion, and analytic notes for section meetings; one take-home, short answer examination. Basis of grade: assignments and performance in section. SCHEDULE OF TOPICS Week 1. Form or History Week 2. Reification Week 3. Reproduction Week 4. Negative Dialectics Week 5. Ideology Week 6. Deconstruction Week 7. Diagram and Schizoanalysis