Monday, December 2, 2013

Spring 2014 course that may be of interest to you: HIST-W300: Modernism and World Architecture



Professor Michael Dodson

Director, History Honor Program

Director, Dhar India Studies Program

Associate Professor of South Asian History


(Note:  Students may earn up to 9 credits, three courses, of HIST-W300 "Issues in World History" as long as the topic is different for each section.  HIST-W300 counts toward the COLL (CASE) S&H Breadth of Inquiry requirement.  Students with questions about this course may contact Professor Dodson at the above e-mail address.


W300: Modernism and World Architecture (Dodson)

Tues/Thurs 11:15-12:30

Ballantine Hall 003


In the early 20th Century, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier began to experiment with radical forms of architecture, believing that through the use of new physical structures and technologies in building he could fundamentally transform the nature of society. For Le Corbusier, the house was a "machine for living in" that could make life better for its residents, and architecture was thus the noblest of all professions. We may no longer always view architecture, or architects, as so fundamentally transformative to our lives, but for much of the 20th Century the design of buildings was generally viewed as critically important to ushering in the "modern world." Indeed, in places like Shanghai or Dubai, the building of landmark structures such as the Burj Khalifa are still seen as emblems of national pride and an ability to compete on a world stage.


In this course we will focus our attention on the ways that architecture has been used to communicate and experiment with forms of modernity, both in Euro-America and the non-Western world during the 20th Century. We will ask after the links between architecture and industrial capitalism, and examine the ways that the design of a building was intended to communicate a society’s possession of modernity, whether in Chicago or Chittagong. Taking a world history perspective, we will be interested to discover how architectural ideals travelled from Europe to Asia, their links to colonialism, and how architectural practices now reflect the globalization of the recent past.


No prior knowledge of architecture or architectural theory is presumed or required. The course will be conducted as a series of lectures with opportunities for class discussion as well. Readings will largely be composed of "primary sources", and there will be an emphasis on developing students’ skills in the critical interpretation of visual and textual sources. Your grade will be determined on the basis of several exams and written assignments.