ARCH 603 Design and Social Movements
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Winter 2017
Thursdays 9:00-12:00, AAB 2227
Prof. Jana Cephas, jcephas@umich.edu
Office hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30 AAB 3115



Aims and Objectives
Overall, the course is concerned with bringing together politics and aesthetics--two philosophical topics that architectural discourse has historically rendered incompatible. Through this course, we will seek, in part, to reveal the mutual constitution of politics and aesthetics by understanding the ways in which architecture, urbanism, and spatial practice are necessarily political because they are aesthetic and aesthetic because they are political.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:
  1. Identify and discuss major themes concerning the encounter between politics and aesthetics, historically and in the present time.
  2. Analyze the role of design and spatial practice in a range of social movements, and conversely, the role of social theory in design theory.
  3. Use the basic tools of new media (such as web design and digital mapping) to communicate ideas, concepts, theories, or arguments to diverse audiences.

Course Materials
All readings are posted on the course's Canvas site and must be completed before each class session. For the digital media workshops, you will need to bring to class a laptop that can connect wirelessly to the internet and that uses the latest version of either Firefox or Chrome to access the web. All digital programs and materials for the workshops will be provided by the instructor, although students will need to load the programs onto their laptops prior to the start of the workshop.


Assignments and Grading
Close analysis of the readings, insightful comments, and critical engagement with one's peers are all critical to the success of this course. Each week we will build upon the knowledge developed in previous weeks through reading, discussion, and writing. To achieve a satisfactory grade, the following minimum standards must be met:

  1. Regular attendance at and active participation in all class sessions and media workshops. This includes volunteering (or being chosen) to summarize the present week's readings at the start of class, or volunteering (or being chosen) to summarize the conclusions reached during the previous class session.
  2. Completion of two intellectual autobiographies (1 page each, due the first week of class and the last week of class, respectively).
  3. Completion of weekly readings and writing assignments (1 page each, due at the start of class).
  4. Completion of media workshop projects and presentations (3 projects total).
  5. Completion of final project (due during exam week).

Grading

Academic Integrity
Please familiarize yourself with the academic policies of the College, as well as the College's policy on plagiarism: "Plagiarism is knowingly presenting another person's ideas, findings, images or written work as one's own by copying or reproducing without acknowledgement of the source. It is intellectual theft that violates basic academic standards. In order to upload an equal evaluation for all work submitted, cases of plagiarism will be reviewed by the individual faculty member and/or the Program Chair and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Punitive measures will range from failure of an assignment to expulsion from the University."

Additionally, keep in mind that plagiarism includes unknowingly presenting the work of another without clear citation. The key to avoiding such inadvertent plagiarism is to take careful notes and to set up a system whereby you can trace every single idea in your work to its original source. As a rule of thumb, if you cannot trace an idea to its source, then don't use it.

For assistance with writing, the Sweetland Writing Center offers classes, one-on-one assistance, and resource guides. Multi-lingual students may contact Theresa Rohick for additional language assistance.

Accommodations for students with disabilities
Please note the College's policy on accommodations: "If you think you need an accommodation for a disability, please let me know at your earliest convenience. Some aspects of this course, the assignments, the in-class activities, and the way the course is usually taught may be modified to facilitate your participation and progress. As soon as you make me aware of your needs, we can work with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office to help us determine appropriate academic accommodations. SSD typically recommends accommodations through a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. Any information you provide is private and confidential and will be treated as such."

Class Structure
Over the course of the semester, we will address material concerning design and social movements in three different ways. For most class sessions, we will operate in a seminar format where we will discuss the concepts presented in the readings and use both historical and contemporary examples to further our understanding of the material at hand. The success of such a discussion-based seminar depends on your active involvement. Critical engagement, thoughtful commentary, and attentive listening are all crucial to creating a class discussion that will be both helpful and challenging to all involved.

Three of our class sessions will be media workshops, whereby you will learn the basic tools and techniques of new media, with the aim of using usch media to present an idea or topic of interest to an intended audience. The aim here is to move our intellectual inquiries beyond the classroom to understand how we might share concepts with a broader audience.

The class session following each media workshop will be devoted to student presentations of an assigned project built upon the skills learned in the previous workshop. Each student will spend a minimal amount of time presenting their project and the entire class will engage in constructive critique and feedback for their peers. The project presentations will be the place to both demonstrate the skills learned in the media workshops and to experiment with articulating, engaging, and presenting the material discussed during the seminar sessions.

Course Calendar

Date
Session
Jan 5
Introduction | Intellectual Autobiography #1 due
Jan 12
Politics and Aesthetics
Jan 19
Modernism and the Aesthetics of Industry
Jan 26
Media Workshop: Interface
Feb 2
Interface Project Presentations
Feb 9
Intentional Communities and the New Social Order
Feb 16
Environmentalism, Technology, and the Movement for Self-Sufficiency
Feb 23
Autonomia: Squatters, Land Activism, and the Self-Build Movement
Mar 2
Semester Break | No class
Mar 9
Media Workshop: Interact
Mar 16
Interact Project Presentations
Mar 23
DIY Urbanism and Rights to the City
Mar 30
Geo-Narratives
Apr 6
Media Workshop: Interval
Apr 13
Interval Project Presentations | Intellectual Autobiography #2 due
Exam day
Final Project Presentations

Class Schedule

Jan 5
Introduction | Intellectual Autobiography #1 due
To begin, we will consider the relationship between and social movements more broadly. Why should we study (or even care) about the influence of design on social movements, or the influence of social movements on design?

Jan 12
Politics and Aesthetics
In both discourse and practice, architecture has typically rendered aesthetics and politics as mutually incompatible ideations of the world, preferring instead to frame the world through the lens of either one or the other, but rarely both at the same time. First, we will clarify what exactly is meant by "politics" and how social movements figure into social history more broadly. Then, we will consider politics and aesthetics as inextricably bound and ponder what it means to approach the world with this framing.
  • Craig Calhoun, "Social Movements and the Idea of Progress," in The Roots of Radicalism: Tradition, the Public Sphere, and Early Nineteenth Century Social Movements (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), pp. 12-19.
  • Jacques Ranciere, "The Distribution of the Sensible: Politics and Aesthetics," in The Politics of Aesthetics (London: Continuum, 2000), pp. 12-19.
Jan 19
Modernism and the Aesthetics of Industry
If the early nineteenth century was a period of developing social movements across the world, then the late nineteenth century saw the first entanglements of aesthetics with notions of social progress. Here, we will consider how the processes of industrial reproduction simultaneously produced two defining characteristics of the early twentieth century--industrial class consciousness and a new form of aesthetics called "design."
  • Arindam Dutta, "The Department of Art and Science: The Aesthetic in the Age of Its Global Reproducibility," in The Bureaucracy of Beauty: Design in the Age of Its Global Reproducibility (New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 1-37.
  • Terry Smith, "Official Images, Modern Times," in Making the Modern: Industry, Art, and Design in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 329-350.
Jan 26
Media Workshop: Interface
The first media workshop will address using digital interfaces to present visual and textual materials to an audience. We will learn the basics of building a website using HTML5 and CSS3, and consider various approaches to presenting static, two-dimensional information.

Feb 2
Interface Project Presentations

Feb 9
Intentional Communities and the New Social Order
Housing has often served as the focus for utopian social projects in attempts to recreate the world and its social order by redesigning the home. We will examine a range of theories and projects that grapple with the question of equitable housing in the industrial and post-industrial age in addition to discussing the class of world views that occurs when considering the role of aesthetics in ordinary buildings.
  • Paul Goodman and Percival Goodman, "A New Community: The Elimination of the Difference between Production and Consumption," in Communitas: Ways of Livelihood and Means of Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 1947), pp. 153-187.
  • Abraham Kazan, "Cooperative Housing in the United States," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 191 no. 1 (1937): 137-143.
  • Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, "Co-op City: Learning to Like It," Progressive Architecture 51 (1970): 64-73.
Feb 16
Environmentalism, Technology, and the Movement for Self-Sufficiency
Environmentalism and concerns with melding buildings with nature long preceded the "green revolution" towards sustainability in architecture that began in the early 2000s. Here we will look at the confluence of technology and ecology that underscored western movements privileging rural self-sufficiency over urban dependence. We will also consider forms of communication, such as the manifesto, that often aim to either highlight or diminish the entanglement between the political and the aesthetic.
  • Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti: An Urban Laboratory? (Mayer, AZ: The Cosanti Press, 1983).
Feb 23
Autonomia: Squatters, Land Activism, and the Self-Build Movement
Perhaps the most common and widespread social movements across the world are those related to land tenure. Democracy and liberalism have long been associated with right to place--whether right to ownership or simply right to access. However, these basic right to occupy or simply take up space are not afforded to all. Here, we will consider the ways in which right to place, broadly speaking, is enacted through social movements and what it means for administrators and designers of places to interface with these movements and their suppositions.
  • Colin Ward, Selections from Talking to Architects (London: Freedom Press, 1996), pp. 11-30.
  • Luke Cordingley, "Can Masdeu: Rise of the Rurbano Revolution," in Making Their Own Plans (Chicago: White Walls, 2004), pp. 53-69.
  • Matthew Gandy, "Between Boriquen and the Barrio," in Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002), pp. 153-186.
  • Patrick Cuninghame, "Autonomism as a Global Social Movement," WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society 13 (December 2010): 451-464.
Mar 2
Semester Break | No class

Mar 9
Media Workshop: Interact
The second media workshop will consider how we can move beyond simply presenting materail to an audience to learning how to engage that audience through interactive displays. We will delve a bit deeper into coding to learn some JavaScript and a few JavaScript frameworks to enable dynamic web interactions.

Mar 16
Interact Project Presentations

Mar 23
DIY Urbanism and Rights to the City
Concerns about the fate of the city in the 21st century have dominated architectural discourse over the last decade. Some designers have shunned the idea of planned urbanism entirely while other have highly aestheticized the spatial practices of ordinary people. Like housing, questions of the city tend to bring together broad cross-sections of interest. Here, we will analyze how the city has become a project of high social and aesthetic concern in recent years.
  • Henri Lefebvre, "The Right to the City," in Writings on Cities (Malden, MA: Blackwell, Publishing, 1996), pp. 147-159.
  • Stuart Cowan, Mark Lakeman, Jenny Leis, Daniel Lerch, and Jan C. Semenza, "The City Repair Project," in Making Their Own Plans (Chicago: White Walls, 2004), pp. 9-23.
  • Christopher Schafer, "The City is Unwritten: Urban Experiences and Thoughts Seen through Park Fiction," in Making Their Own Plans (Chicago: White Walls, 2001), pp. 39-51.

Mar 30
Geo-Narratives
The means of representing the ways of making and doing that define aesthetics are not, as we've learned, limited to artistic production. Here, we will investigate how modes of representation, such as mapping, have been critical to tying together aesthetics and politics while at the same time obscuring the inherent relationship between aesthetics and politics.
  • James C. Scott, "Introduction" and "Nature and Space," in Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 1-52.
  • Edward Said, "Invention, Memory, and Place," in Landscape and Power Edited by W.J.T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), pp. 241-259.
  • Jeremy W. Crampton and John Krygier, "An Introduction to Critical Cartography," 2006, pp. 11-25.

Apr 6
Media Workshop: Interval
The final media workshop will address tools for representing space in time and time in space. We will learn some basic mapping scripts as well as some of the popular tools for building and sharing maps online.

Apr 13
Interval Project Presentations | Intellectual Autobiography #2 due

Exam day
Final Project Presentations
For the final project, each student will create a dynamic and interactive site that will communicate ideas developed in the course or related aspects of the student's own research interests. The final project will build directly upon the tools and tactics learned in the media workshops and will be presented to the entire class during exam week.