Buildings, Texts, and Contexts

The two-module sequence 4201-4202 will be taught as a single semester- long course for Fall 2009. This course is structured as a dialogue between historical and theoretical frameworks that affect our understanding of architecture and its genesis. The organizing principle here is syncretic as opposed to chronological, and synoptic rather than merely factual. We treat a selected range of concepts developed by philosophers, historians, and theorists to explain the production and experience of architecture. We move back and forth between projects from the early modern to the (almost) contemporary periods by means of one or several theoretical intertexts, which we use to open up a historical narrative across examples.We set the stage by means of the persistent dilemma of theoretical- historical thought, inaugurated here by concepts from Kant and Hegel: is art an autonomous form or is it determined by its historical context? We then turn to Classicism, its emergence as aesthetic doctrine during the Renaissance, its association with concepts of order and universality, its historiographic legacy, and its complex relation to Modernism. From there, we move to the interaction of ideology and representation; we discuss the symbolics of perspective, architectural metaphors of power in the Baroque period, and the discursive development and transformation of ideology in Althusser and Jameson. Deleuze is the major interlocutor in the next sections, which focus on the diagrammatic imagination, its philosophical roots in Leibniz, its use as a materialist social critique, and its implications for architectural design. Deleuze\’s elaboration of the diagram also serves as stepping stone first for a discussion of the Sublime in Enlightenment and Postmodernist contexts, and second for the key concepts of utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia, respectively. We conclude with the persistence of the Dialectic from Marx to Adorno to the present in order to address the production of space, the problem of abstraction, and the contemporary status of immanent critique.