Fall 2018

Course Description: Borrowing heavily from Heraclitus’ famous quote, “nature loves to hide”, this seminar will focus on how things love to hide. We’re going to look at meaning and poetics in things—specifically, buildings and places—and through that gain a deeper insight into the things we design. Poiesis has been described as revealing that which is already present but otherwise unseen. A poetic work has the potential to show something not seen until that work itself brings it forth. Yet, what that not-seen is, is hiddenness itself. While, at first that sounds like a contradiction, it describes the sense we have when, no matter how much we think we know about a thing, we still feel we don’t quite have it all. There’s a slipperiness to things; while right in front of us, they hide (withdraw, conceal) themselves, never fully revealed. This insight is significant for designers, since we claim to have authority over what it is we design.
 
Through readings, lectures and student-led presentations students will explore poiesis, what is seen / not-seen. When considering what things are this way, how do we respond to them, and they to us? This line questioning considers how poiesis shapes, not only the student as a caring designer, but as a concerned member of the world’s community. As such, the seminar considers the designer’s responsibilities in what has recently come to be called the Anthropocene, our current geological age, the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Finding ways to culturally express ourselves in this time of dynamic change may be best served by considering the seemingly contradictory relationship we have with the myriad things of this world. The lens of the poetic (art and design) are uniquely qualified to address this relationship.
 
Methodology: As typical in seminars, there will be informal discussions and presentations based on weekly readings and instructor lectures. Discussions in seminar will spill over and impact the work of the associated studio (see prerequisites below) Each week, you will participate in a series of wide-ranging topics that look at poiesis in the Anthropocene. These will be coupled with inquiries into everyday objects, built architectural work, artworks, landscape design and literature.. Along with those, you’ll be asked to give several presentations throughout the semester accompanied by a written synopsis summarizing the content of what was presented. There will also be two short research-based written assignments that will advance your seminar explorations.
 
Thinkers we will be considering are Jane Bennett, Graham Harman, Martin Heidegger, Timothy Morton, the poetry of Maya Angelou, Emily Dickenson and Wallace Stevens.
 
Prerequisites: This seminar is required for those taking the Gulf Coast DesignLab Advanced Design Studio ARC 561R/ ARC 696. Please refer to the Spring 2018 advanced design studio listing for a more thorough description.
Consequently, this seminar is open primarily to students taking that studio. However, there will be limited space available for interested students outside the studio. Students wishing to take this seminar, will be selected on a first-come basis as ranked by their advancement. Those students should have an equivalent standing similar to students who are at the advanced design studio level.
 
Required Texts: Provided by instructor through an electronic reader and as coordinated through the course.