Discourse and Methods II

This seminar is designed as an introduction to some of the major critical approaches and methodologies that have shaped the history and theory of the design disciplines.  This iteration of the seminar brings together two theorists—with different yet related frames of reference—to examine a particularly significant period in architectural history.  This period began to develop, in many respects, in the late nineteenth century and intensified after the 1950s.  As with many inquiries into the historical, political, and epistemological milieu of architecture, the course will examine a number of pivotal theoretical contestations in how objects, such as buildings, cities, and infrastructures, are apprehended, known, and ordered in human life.  As Jacques Derrida remarked in Architecture Where the Desire May Live, “I don’t mean to conceive of architecture as a technique separate from thought and therefore possibly suitable to represent it in space…but rather to raise the question of architecture as a possibility of thought, which cannot be reduced to the status of a representation of thought.”

The class is based on close readings and critical discussions. Readings include fundamental texts in German critical theory, French post-structuralism, recent architectural theory, and related discourses. As much as possible discussions will revolve around architectural and urban objects and cases.

Prerequisites: This course is normally open only to Ph.D. students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning and Design. Other GSD and Harvard Ph.D. students may enroll with the instructors’ permission. Students interested in taking the course should submit by email to the instructors a short account of why they want to take the course, a copy of their resume including relevant background courses, and a short writing sample. If admitted to the course, students will be responsible for attending all classes and doing the assigned papers and presentations.