Literature and Architecture: Between Utopia and Dystopia, Design and Occupation

Winter 2016-2017


Jennifer Scappettone

This course will explore the material repercussions of built, neglected, and mythologized environments on those who imagine and inhabit them, and the way the literary arts contribute to their shape. We will place the literature of the metropolis into dialogue with the writings and plans of architects and urbanists on the one hand, and activist/occupants on the other. We will study the creation (and sporadic dismantling) of the city from the perspective of its builders and inhabitants—moving swiftly from the nineteenth-century flaneur through Situationism, from the utopian schemes and conceptual architectures of the ‘60s and 70s and Occupy movements. A range of cities, visible and invisible, will be under consideration, with Chicago as our immediate case study: students will be required to attend or respond to a major symposium on Gwendolyn Brooks cosponsored by the University in April. In tandem with the reading of literary texts by authors ranging from Djuna Barnes and Virginia Woolf through Italo Calvino and Anne Boyer, we will engage with architectural history and theory, encountering works by figures such as Augustus Pugin, John Ruskin, Daniel Burnham, Le Corbusier, Manfredo Tafuri, Massimo Cacciari, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhass, Superstudio, and Pier Vittorio Aureli. (B, G, H)