Fall 2020

ARC 327R (00734) / ARC 386M (01013) / WGS 335 (44413)


This reading and research seminar centers around the invisible forces behind our aesthetic realm. Using a queer lens, we will identify and unpack the aesthetic value systems inherent in architecture and its adjacencies. The seminar asks: What is the relationship between predominant taste cultures, kitsch, and queerness? How does existing scholarship define queer architecture? How does it define queer space? How does architectural style confer an aesthetic value system, and how can we come to recognize and reappropriate its tools for proposing alternative ways of seeing, making, and identification? Is there a white architecture? Is there a brown architecture? Is there a queer, or a straight architecture? We will focus on unpacking the values of Modern Architecture and its construction of a certain kind of beauty. If the prevailing conception of beauty is not a reflection of how we see ourselves, whose beauty is it? How does this conception of beauty change over time in architectural discourse, particularly in the overturning of styles and tastes? We will investigate what is included and omitted from these discourses through weekly responses and a final research paper or design proposal.


Readings will include texts from gender studies, queer theory, philosophy, architecture history, and architects’ own manifestos to better understand for whom and how the prevailing canonical architecture came to write its own identity—and how we can write and create one for ourselves. Readings of interest will include excerpts on the performance of gender, architecture’s performance of identity via ornament and color, and the intersection between style, taste, and the values of success and failure in the architectural discourse. Authors will include Louis Althusser, Aaron Betsky, Judith Butler, Darryl Fields, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Olivier Vallerand, Venturi and Scott Brown, Adolph Loos, Le Corbusier, Eve Sedgwick, Susan Sontag, and others.


Prerequisite: Graduate or Upper-Level Undergraduate standing. 


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