4.646
Advanced Study in the History of Modern Architecture and Urbanism: Histories of the Future

Prerequisites: 
Permission of instructor

Design (of buildings, cities, environments) is an anticipatory discipline, whose techniques, practices, and desires are directed toward the formulation of futures. Not future objects as such, but future situations; scenarios of behaviors prompted by buildings; or different circumstances of politics, economics, or subjectivity that will encompass cities; or territorial arrangements of new assemblies of technology, environment, and life. Insofar as design is actually the anticipatory design of futures, then design history is the history of futures. 

Histories of the Future will examine prior moments of futurism, speculation, prediction, and planning with the aim of reconstructing and inhabiting prior states of anticipation. It will pursue a broad consideration of models of anticipation such as eschatology, progress, determinism, evolution, and relativity.  Readings drawn from philosophy, aesthetics, science, law, and literature will be explored in order to illuminate the particular predispositions of such anticipations.  Over the course of the seminar, events and objects drawn from design history will be examined as the evidence of the possibilities and impossibilities latent within different states of anticipation.  

Students in the seminar will contribute to one of two projects that will be developed collaboratively over the course of the semester. One will be oriented toward instrumental practice: a user manual of techniques of anticipation. The other will be oriented toward historical perspective: a project of anticipatory history. 

Enrollment limited. Priority will be given to graduate students, but advanced undergraduates may be eligible.