Taubman College

Course List

Term Winter 2011
Class ARCH 509
Class Title Prototopia

This seminar will investigate the notion of “prototype” in the context of un- and under-realized utopian proposals of the American Midwest from 1826 to the present in order to explore the relationship between building and ideology and to better understand the geopolitics of architecture. The course will be organized around readings, presentations, and discussions focused on utopias, prototypes, “prototopias,” as well as individual research work. Emphasis will be placed on the production of primary material and on experimental textual and graphic analysis. As the course is part of on-going research connected to the Sanders fellowship, participants will have the opportunity to contribute to an exhibition in the latter part of the semester.

The primary case studies are New Harmony, Indiana; Nauvoo, Illinois; and Bentonville, Arkansas. Each is a city shaped by ideology and each approaches architecture as a serial, deployable condition. While the case studies for the seminar are specific, the issues they engage are general enough to support a broad range of interests. Similarly, though some of the case studies are historical, this is not a history seminar. Rather, through an examination of a range of utopian projects, the goal is to address larger questions of design and urbanism in order to more effectively engage contemporary conditions.

Participants in the seminar will be exposed to a range of scholarship regarding urbanism, will gain experience in documenting and synthesizing complex information, will develop representational and analytical techniques, and will have the opportunity to develop their own unique research work that will be collected and formatted into a small publication at the conclusion of the semester.

Readings will include Dolores Hayden’s Seven American Utopias, Armand Mattelart’s The Invention of Communication, Keller Easterling’s Organization Space: Landscapes, Highway, and Houses in America, as well as a collection of texts drawn from science fiction, utopian political theory, urban history, architectural criticism, futurology, urban geography, and histories of technology.
Prereq none entered yet
Crosslist none
Required No
Elective Yes
Selective No
Meets Thursdays 7:00-10:00pm 1227 A&AB
Credits 3
Faculty Jesse LeCavalier
Syllabus not available