Social Texts and Polemical Cities

This seminar examines the way representations of society and culture areembodied in social texts and their relation to the design of alternativeurban spaces and places; i.e., \’polemical cities\’. Several criticalquestions guide the discussion and exercises in the seminar. Can socialtext be usefully or meaningfully incorporated in or represented through themedium of design? What is the nature of a discourse that frames socialissues through verbal text and visual image? Can design media and visualrepresentations be used to elaborate and extend social theoretical text toprovide a deeper understanding of the social and cultural processes, whichprovide the basis for alternative visions of the city?The Seminar is divided into a number of thematic sections Reading, Writingand Representation, Urban Community The City of Capital, The Virtual City,Feminism and the City and Imagining the City. The seminar will be based ona close reading and discussion of the visions for the city in suchimportant theorists such as Marc Auge, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebrve,David Harvey, Manuel Castells, Iris Young, Elizabeth Wilson, Gillian Rose,Gerald Frug, WJT Mitchell and James Duncan.The seminar will discuss the issues raised in the six thematic sections.The discussion will seek to discover the extent to which the text maythrough the use of different design media [e.g.; models, drawings, photos,computer simulation, etc.] be embodied in, or elaborated and/or transformedinto alternative visions of urban spaces and places. Following thediscussion of a social text, proposals for these alternative visions framedthrough a design medium of the student\’s choice will be presented to theclass for discussion about its vision of the city and the relation ofdesign media to social text. Students will be responsible for one presentation during the semester andone final presentation before both invited designers and social theoristsfor discussion in the final session of the semester.