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Course Detail

Term Winter 2018
Class ARCH 603
Class Title Fieldwork in American Modernism
Description American architectural modernism has often been cast as derivative of European precedents, a provincial riff on the International Style. But even as American architects, artists, and designers of the early and mid-twentieth century indisputably engaged with European modernism, they understood their own work as distinct from Europe. Drawing from inspiration from industry, rising nationalism, rural vernaculars, regional tradition and domestic imagery, modern American designers and artists forged a different kind of modern expression that spoke to the unique history, indigenous culture, and landscape of their continent. This attempt proved to be both highly productive and problematic, and calls attention to enduring questions about the nature of American identity more broadly. Investigating American modernism is a question of both/and — it is a discourse that is simultaneously regional and national, post-racial and racialized, inclusive and exclusive, populist and elitist, nostalgic and futuristic, vernacular and canonical.

This course directly confronts these tensions in American modernism, exploring first, the development of a local “Michigan Modern” canon and second, the development of a national modern identity though the diverse programs of the New Deal. Truly a “fieldwork” course, these lessons are rooted in practical skill-building and experiential learning. Through frequent local field trips, guest instructor workshops, and community engagement with local modern preservation groups we will develop skills applicable to a breadth of architectural and historical practice. We will confront the difficulties and possibilities of photographing modern architecture, documenting extant structures, and presenting our work to public audiences. MArch and PhD students will collaborate on a variety of smaller projects throughout the semester. Doctoral students enrolling in this course will be encouraged to develop final projects that speak to their own research interests.
Prereq none entered yet
Crosslist none
Required No
Elective Yes
Selective No
Meets Wednesday 1:00-4:00pm 2227 A&AB
Credits 3
Faculty Sarah Rovang
Syllabus ARCH603-poster_Rovang.pdf
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