Manfredo Tafuri and The Historiography And Criticism of Architecture 1960-1990

The seminar focuses on the markedly complex intellectual biography of Manfredo Tafuri, whose work touched upon many fields of knowledge including theories of art and architecture, linguistics, philosophy, historiography, sociology, and psychology. We will follow the evolution of his ideas within the contexts of both the political and cultural changes in Italy during the five decades of his life, and the architectural and historiographic debates of that period, of which he was a main protagonist. A selection of readings will illuminate the transformation of these ideas and serve as the primary means of investigation.

Rather than consolidating Manfredo Tafuri’s thinking as one main trunk or body of work, the seminar will attempt to understand the dynamic and often contradictory trajectory of this immense intellectual figure—“Dividuus and not in-dividuus,” as he would say. The result should be twofold: to address the necessity of a complex approach to understanding architecture, and to evaluate and perhaps adopt a fruitful set of concepts to approaching contemporary ideas and history.

Course format:

The seminar will begin with lectures on the life and works of Tafuri and on the Italian political, economic, and cultural context. Required readings will be analyzed by all the participants and designated students will present on readings at each meeting. The course will close with a final meeting with guest experts on Tafuri’s ideas.


Students will be evaluated on their level of active engagement and participation, their required presentation, and a paper on a topic of their choice related to the framework of the seminar.

Prerequisites: None. Some knowledge of Italian is welcome.