This course addresses a series of topics in contemporary landscape architecture, and invokes a selection of texts in their support; the topics and some of these texts take up current issues, others suggest a historical hinterland of relevant materials. This is not a historical course, which students will encounter later, but one that confronts contemporary issues with some hints as to their provenance. The course is structured as a weekly lecture, with questions; this will be followed by discussion seminars, for which the group will be divided into two, led by an instructor in landscape architecture and by Professor Hunt, who will meet them in alternate weeks. Students who meet in weeks with the instructor will submit a brief (two+ pages) commentary on the week’s lecture, readings or the discussion of them, invoking whatever relevant material they would like to cite. Thus by the end of the course each student will have a portfolio of four responses; this, along with the proposal required at the end and a prefatory note on the scope and range of the student’s thinking, will constitute the final submission. Attendance at lectures, reading of the weekly materials, and participation in seminar discussions are required.
The topics are by no means a full agenda of issues that contemporary landscape architecture needs to address, and some of them are deliberatively provocative; there will be opportunities to raise others in a discussion at the end of the semester. Among the issues to be canvassed are: the role of theory; nature and anti-nature; sublime and picturesque; the role of history in contemporary practice; meaning, narrative and metaphor; time and process; the role of gardens in landscape architecture, and the latter’s relation (if any) with land art; identity of place, locality; theatre and scene.