History of Art and Architecture

HAA 1475 Modernity, Modernism and Housing

This course offers multiple perspectives on architectural modernism and modernity through the perspective of dwelling. We will consider examples of modern architecture from the Americas, Europe, Africa, the middle East and Asia from the late 19th century (starting with the debates regarding tenements in this country and working-class housing in England) and end with the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects in St. Louis in 1972. The lens of housing will allow us to consider modernism in different geographic contexts (East and West); under different political conditions (in the colonial periphery, in the heart of empire, as part of state-sponsored redevelopment projects, and as part of the nation-building process in the developing world) and through a range of theoretical vectors (i.e. The modernist house as a manifesto for a new way of living; the attention received by vernacular building traditions and various schemes to replicate them as part of the modern project; the role of post-war technology in prefabricated housing; and the role of museums, such as the MOMA and other institutions such as the united nations in calcifying modernism in various locales around the world). This course is designed to give students a strong foundation in the theoretical, aesthetic and historical expressions of architectural modernism. It is also designed to expand the range of architectural modernism beyond the traditional Euro-Ameri-centric canon to include alternative modernisms across global geographies.