Investigating a Site in the Boston Region
The city itself provides a text richer than any other you will read this semester. Using old maps, prints, and photographs, but primarily your own eyes and mind, you will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the course to "reading" a site of your choosing. This semester-long project will be due in four parts; the assignments vary in length from two to eight pages, a total of approximately twenty-six pages. One of the assignments must be revised and resubmitted.
The assignments will be posted to your website, which will be linked to the class website. Students may not make changes to an assignment between the submission date and receipt of grade. After receiving your grade for an assignment, you are free to revise the assignment. For a more detailed description of each assignment, click on the titles below.
Assignment 1: Select a Site. (Due in class Tuesday, February 19; due online, Friday, February 22) Describe your site and reflect on why it interests you. What questions does the place raise for which you hope to find answers this semester? The text should be about 600 words (approximately two typed pages), accompanied by a map that identifies the boundaries of the site.
Assignment 2: Your Site and Natural Processes. (Due online Friday, March 1) Find evidence on your site of its environmental history and ongoing natural processes. The objective of this assignment is to discover how natural processes shape cities over time. The text should be equivalent to about 2400 words (approximately eight typed pages, double-spaced), accompanied by illustrations.
Assignment 3: Your Site Through Time. (Due online Friday, April 5) Trace changes over time on your site by comparing its character at several points in time, using different types of sources. What changes do you find? How would you characterize them? Are the changes gradual or do they seem to happen suddenly? Do changes within a time period seem related? How about from one time to another? Can you find patterns in the changes? What might explain the changes you found? Were they merely an outcome of actions by individuals or do they reflect broader forces (social, cultural, political, economic, or natural processes and conditions at local, regional, national, or global scales; policies; events; technological changes)? The text should be equivalent to about 2400 words (approximately eight typed pages), accompanied by illustrations.
4: Artifacts, Layers, Traces, and Trends. (Due online Friday, April 19) Walking around your site, what clues can you find to past, current, and potential future uses and residents? What different kinds of traces can you find and what period and population of the site's history do they belong to? What do they reveal about the past and the present? The objective of this assignment is to give an appreciation for how past owners, functions, events, and ways of life leave traces and to give experience in "reading" the site by learning to recognize these traces and work out the puzzles of their significance. The text should be equivalent to about 2400 words (approximately eight typed pages), accompanied by illustrations.
All assignments due by 5PM on dates indicated in syllabus, except for assignment 1, which is due in class. There will be no extensions without prior, written consent of the instructor. Late projects will receive a reduction in grade. It is very important to attend each class and to keep up with the assignments, for they build on one another.