Proseminar in Landscape Architecture

How do we understand a landscape? This proseminar explores epistemologies that constitute the field of landscape architecture. The proseminar will introduce MLA II students to a range of landscape knowledge and practice from around the world, and the implications for design and research. The focus is on developing a critical perspective from understanding landscape architecture theory, practice, and speculation from diverse, climatic, cultural, social, and racial backgrounds.

The proseminar takes a global perspective, addressing multiple definitions of the field of landscape architecture. We will ask what it means to practice professionally in various parts of the world, especially in those regions, such as most of Africa, that have no formal association of landscape architects. In a 1961 essay, “A Table for Eight,” Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, the founding president of the International Federation of Landscape Architects, proposed that “the landscape architect who was first called a landscape gardener is still surely wrongly named.” Jellicoe went on to call for a single word to describe the profession, a term that would exist between all countries. While we will speculate on what this word might be, the proseminar’s starting point is that the field should be open to a plurality of understandings of landscape architecture rather than a single, universal, term.

To help with our inquiry into diverse forms of landscape knowledge and practice, we will explore a range of recourses available at Harvard University including the Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Map Collection. GSD faculty will also speak about their current interests within the historical context of the school. To this end, the proseminar serves as an introduction to the department, the school, and the university.

The first class meeting will be on Wednesday, September 8th. The rest of the semester, classes will meet during the official scheduled time.