Narrative does not represent history “as it really happened,” nor reveal to us the “true” meaning of culture. Narrative, rather, constructs the figures, both literary and spatial, that open cultures to our attention as sites of projection, dispute, and transformation.

The MDes program’s Narratives Domain provides students the opportunity for historical and theoretical explorations into the social, cultural, technical, and political contexts of design, and is directed towards individuals for whom advanced study can serve as preparation for future work in three general areas:

  1. The subsequent pursuit of a PhD degree in the histories of design, architecture, cities, or landscapes, or in adjacent fields that include the study of the constructed environments.
  2. The cultivation of theoretical and historical frameworks for future design practice and teaching.
  3. The development of an intellectual foundation for the pursuit of careers in journalism, digital media, or curation related to architecture and design.

The program is structured around a curriculum comprising seminars and lectures taught by the history/theory faculty of the GSD and other courses in digital media and design theory. During their residence, students in this MDes program’s Narratives Domain also have access to an unparalleled array of resources and throughout Harvard University. The production of narrative knowledge of design and media, through verbal and graphic presentations, has a natural affinity with courses offered in departments such as Art, Film, and Visual Studies, the History of Science, as well as History, Anthropology, Literature, among others. In addition, the Humanities Center at Harvard, the Laboratory at Harvard, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society are venues for conversations among scholars at Harvard and internationally, hosting speakers, seminars, workshops, and conferences that are open to all Harvard students. Together with the numerous activities at the GSD, these events provide a diverse and stimulating intellectual environment for students among the Narratives Domain.

Domain Head

Erika Naginski, Robert P. Hubbard Professor of Architectural History