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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

About Amherst College

About Amherst College

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

Honors & Fellowships

Honors & Fellowships

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Architectural Studies

Professors Courtright, Katsaros and Morse; Associate Professors Arboleda (Chair) and Gilpin; Assistant Professors Carey* and Rice; Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. 

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

* On leave 2021-22.

101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2021

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

131 History and Theory of Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices.  Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.

The goals of the course are:
above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;
• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;
• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation;
• to read texts about the period critically and analytically.
No previous experience with art or art history is necessary. 

Fall semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
No cap on enrollment.

Fall semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

153 World Monuments

(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

157 The Postcolonial City

(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

207 Racism and the City

(Offered as SOCI 209, ARCH 207 and BLST 319) Defying the hopes of many for the future of democracy, cities continue to be the hotbed of racial oppression, exploitation, and injustice in the United States. In this course, we will focus on this connection and discuss the alternatives.

The first theme of the course is the intellectual origins of structural racism in urban theory. The redefinition of racism in the early twentieth century as a predominantly urban phenomenon happened at the same time as (if not as a result of) the foundation of urban sociology in the United States that implicitly justifies racial stratification as a “natural” component of “urban ecology.”

The second theme is the role of U.S. urban planning and policymaking in structural racism. The formation and transformation of urban spaces and institutions such as suburbs, the highway system, the police force, and homeowner associations account for a complex matrix that keeps both the illusion of legal equality and the reality of social inequality intact.

The third theme is urban resistance against structural racism. Both well-known and mostly forgotten incidents, such as the protests in the Watts region of Los Angeles or the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, and the global demonstrations about the death of George Floyd inform us about the actors of urban collective action in the post-WWII context. We will embark on studying the literature concerning social movements to relate these instances to a broader discussion about how urban resistance could both facilitate and contain anti-racist mobilization.

Last, we will focus on the urban elements in alternative political, intellectual, and artistic visions and practices such as the African American communal experiences, separatism, and Afrofuturism. In this section, the goal is to develop ideas collectively about anti-racist urban political action and policymaking in the years to come.

Fall semester.  Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

211 Introduction to Urban Sociology: Invention of the Urban Space

(Offered as SOCI 211 and ARCH 211) All urban spaces are invented by the users of those spaces. Following this axiom, this course introduces the basic concepts and themes of urban space theories and then discusses these concepts and themes within the historical context of the invention of mental and physical urban spaces.

Reviewing the basic foundational notions of urban ecology, political economy, and urban planning, we will discuss contrasting urban utopias that underlie different spatial inventions from the nineteenth century and beyond. Then, we will move to ethnographic and historical works that focus on key urban spaces, including suburbia, social housing, slums/barrios/gecekondus, ghettoes, and global cities. We will also discuss the idea of whether the nation state itself is an urban space invented to contextualize other urban spaces.

Along with these discussions, we will review some of the important datasets on cities collected by key agencies and institutions such as GaWC and Eurostat Urban Audits. Students will use these materials to analyze urban spaces during the semester. Students will gain new skills to contemplate social relations through the prism of spatial dynamics and to investigate related empirical questions with the assistance of different data sources.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Associate Professor Balaban.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(Offered as ASLC 220 and ARCH 220) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one-fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The class will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as the center of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. We will use that complexity to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and to consider a culture different than one’s own.

Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Maxey and Morse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

241 The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241)  Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals. 

Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.

 Learning goals:

  • Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;
  • Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined;
  • Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.

Meets twice a week, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended.

Uncapped.

 Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

249 Digital Art History

(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rice.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only.  There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Arboleda. 

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(Offered as ARHA 253 and ARCH 253) This course traces the social and political history of the modern city from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In the process, it questions the extent to which contemporary megacities—like São Paulo or Shanghai—reflect a social and urban system of organization that has its roots in earlier experiments in metropolitan design. Over the course of the semester, we will approach a number of genericized architectural spaces that have recurred across modern cities in ways that elucidate the broader template to which such urban zones often conform. These sites include the park, the nightclub, the brothel, the restaurant, the port, the highway, and the hotel, to name only a few. Our examination of these spaces will foreground the role of architecture and urban planning in shaping social interaction in these common locales. We will approach these sites as manifested in several modern metropolises, such as Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Dakar, São Paulo, and New York. In investigating these places, we will ask: What makes a city? What, if any, continuities characterize the organizational structures, social spaces, and living conditions of modern cities in the western and non-western worlds? In encouraging students to explore the relationships between European and non-European urban centers, this course will serve as a point of departure for rethinking the binaries that separate the West and the Non-West. Through written assignments and independent research, students will gain knowledge of the ways in which urban spaces have informed social, political, economic, and cultural histories in America and beyond. This course will also aid students in developing their writing and research skills.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

257 The Colonial City: Architecture, Empire, Resistance

(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Carey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.

Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2022

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Koehler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

261 The Architecture of Race

(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.

Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2021-22  Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

269 Baroque Art

(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.

This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. 

Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped.

Spring Semester. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Spring 2022

360 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

363 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

365 Making Memorials

(Offered as GERM 365, ARCH 365, and EUST 365) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts, primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States in the twentieth century, including also 9/11, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inter/national events of 2020. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 20 students. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2021

368 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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