Situating the Modern: Modern Architecture and Vernacular Traditions

The first meeting of this course will take place on September 1st at 6 PM in room 318. Interested students should plan to attend. This is due to no classes being offered on Labor Day.

From National Romanticism in late 19th to Critical Regionalism debates in the 20th century, architecture\’s ability to evoke a sense of place, locality or identity has been valued as a form of resistance to the hegemony of supra-national discourses such as imperial neo-classicism and \”International Style\” modernism respectively. At the same time, such preoccupations with geographical and cultural specificity have also informed \”invented traditions\” of various kinds — formal/stylistic appropriation of vernacular traditions in the service of modern identity politics from colonialism and nationalism to tourism and theme parks. With a cross-cultural perspective that transcends the western/non-western binary, this course offers a historical overview of the search for national, regional or cultural expression in modern architecture over the last century, addressing the ambiguity of this quest between its \”critical\” and \”commercialized\” versions. In a lecture/seminar format, it will cover major debates and critical theories of national, regional and/or vernacular modernisms, with selected case studies from Europe, Mediterranean and the Middle East. Lectures will be complemented by in depth class discussion of key figures/texts/projects and the major course requirement will be a term paper.