ARC 342R (00885) ARC 388R (01185)
This course is intended to serve as an exploration of African American experiences with the built environment in the United States from the American colonial period to the present. The course is arranged chronologically and thematically to consider conventional topics such as plantation architecture and segregated space but offers an opportunity to explore other themes often neglected in the canon of American architectural history such as sites of urban slavery, freedmen’s communities, evolution of the African American architect, convict laborers’ contributions to American architecture, early African American architects, interwar design, post WWII modernism and social reform, and reclamation/formation of an African American architectural identity. Students will explore who or what defines the African American architectural experience in the framework of what constitutes American Architecture.
The course is a seminar that meets once a week for three hours. Students are expected to read a wide array of primary and background texts and participate in writing assignments. This is an intermediate-level, lecture/discussion course intended to build on the foundation of previous architectural history survey/topics sequence as well as courses in history and African American Studies. It offers frameworks for interpreting the history of architecture in the United States and opportunities for developing research and interpretation.
With these objectives in mind, students will participate in a major research project on the “dependency” of the Neill-Cochran Museum, an 1856 Greek Revival style mansion located just west of the UT campus adjacent to an area that developed as a freedmen’s community in the late nineteenth century. The outbuilding is possibly the only remaining dependency intended for the use of enslaved people in Austin. Currently, the dependency’s first floow houses a collection of 19th century tools, and the second floor interprets a relatively spare and primitive living space. The goal of the project is to conduct archival research and examine previous architectural and archaeological research to prepare historic contexts that will be used in the future to reinterpret the space and to honor the labor and lives of the people who built the original structures and who initially worked there.