Architecture and Poststructuralism

We set the stage by means of a persistent dilemma shaping aesthetic practices as it was inaugurated by concepts from Kant and Hegel: Is architecture an autonomous form or is it determined by its historical, social, and technological contexts? The version of the dilemma we will treat here began in the West in the 1960s, when architects and scholars explicitly reframed the above question and continued their pondering at least until the 1990s. The concept of postmodernism, often a corollary of structuralist and poststructuralist thought, finds its definitive articulation in architecture. Postmodern architecture was born in the academy and was developed in journals that interacted with poststructuralism. In the course, we will follow that development with close readings of architectural projects and theoretical texts. Meanwhile, the larger currents of postmodern thought flowed through poststructuralist theories of subject formation, which we will also study.

The embrace of poststructuralist theory eventually precipitated the end of historicist postmodernism, though it is arguable that extensions of postmodern thought continue to frame recent architectural production. In the second half of the seminar, we will investigate the lineage of poststructuralism in architectural practice since 1990. This part of the course will be more speculative and will require intense involvement on the part of participants.

Prerequisites: BTC or equivalent study in architecture theory and history.