Fall 2020

LAR 388K (01645) ARC 342E (00805) ARC 395E (01180)


Syllabus Title: History & Theories of Landscape Architecture, I (Antiquity to 1700).




Taught online during scheduled times, with established deadlines. 

Lectures will be synchronous, in shorter segments than the usual lecture format, leaving ample time for discussion. Students will be encouraged to draw and paint, and will conduct a variety of research and writing activities. 



This lecture course offers both a broad overview and a chronological series of in-depth studies in the history of major garden cultures and designed landscapes of the Western and Eastern worlds.  It introduces the student to methodological approaches to the formal, social, and cultural history of gardens and landscapes, as well as to relevant theoretical frameworks for interpreting these designed landscapes and for use in conceptualizing landscapes, architecture, and urban projects in studio design. 
The course is intended for and open to graduate students, including MLA, MArch, M.A., Ph.D. students and so forth, and open to upper-level undergraduate students. Unique course numbers are created for each category of student. There are no prerequisites for this course, at any level.
The course covers key examples of design in landscape architecture across the large arc of time from Mediterranean and Roman antiquity to about1700 in England, when industrialization and modernization in the West first affected urban and rural cultures. Our study thus witnesses the gradual emergence by 1700 of key categories of modernity and a new notion of the public and of public landscapes, as opposed to private ownership. 
The societies and cultures covered in the course fall within three broad groupings:
1.) ancient Italy and Rome, where certain typologies and forms were developed that became foundations for later gardens, both Western and Islamic.
2.) European and Islamic nations during the medieval and early modern periods (700 AD to ca. 1700), e.g. states in Italy, France, England, as well as Islamic Spain, Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Persia, Mughal India, all cultures in which one finds parallel developments of formal gardens. African developments in the same periods are also discussed.
3.) England, 1600-1700, where a new conception of landscape design was born, the pastoralist "landscape garden," the source of so many important design traditions in the European and Anglo-American worlds, and still current today as a significant design language. 
Although full coverage of the great traditions of garden design would include China and Japan, these cultures are incorporated into the course on a rotating basis, as the instructor gains knowlege of them and as guest lecturers can contribute specialized studies. 
The course also stresses a methodological approach which I call one of "comparative cultures." The Islamic empires and garden cultures bear fruitful comparison with the western nation states, such as Italy, France, and England, where formal gardens and parks also developed during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. It is not a coincidence that during these centuries both Italy and Persia (Iran) were each called "the garden of the world." Considering "globalizations" and global contacts worldwide as major phenomena in past centuries, for example in the medieval period, the course covers a majority of the significant morphological and typological developments in the history of landscape architecture.  Often paradigmatic or foundational in terms of conceptual frameworks, these achievements constitute a set of design languages and a body of knowledge that continue to be of critical use for modern designers today.
Gardens and landscape architecture are considered here as complex, ambiguous forms developing on the borderlines between extant, native landscapes and the spheres of culture and practice. They are also considered as part of territorial organizations having to do with the political and economic relations between cities and countrysides. Particular attention is given to activities that manifest and sustain cultural attitudes to landscape, such as written documents (e.g. private letters, published guidebooks) and visual representation in landscape paintings, prints and drawings, and cartography.
Goals and Objectives of the Course:
On a broad level, the course encourages students to situate designed sites and their conceptualization in historical context, and to recognize their multivalent character and the fundamental social and interdisciplinary nature of their production, which engages variously with the spheres of art, architecture, urbanism and planning, ecological and geographical systems, among others. On a theoretical and methodological level, the course readings encourage an evaluation of the new thinking about landscape and landscape architecture that has occurred in professional and academic circles particularly during the last several decades, a period characterized by interdisciplinary thinking in both professional practice and academic research, which brings together landscape architecture and other disciplines--geography, history, sociology, art, architecture, and science.