Fall 2019

ARC 388R (01095) CRP 388 (01495) 

What is a cultural landscape and how can landscape and building elements narrate unique histories of people and place? This class is organized around discrete methods used to investigate the history of everyday places. This includes archival research (architectural plans, town plats, aerial photographs, Sanborn maps, city directories, building permits), and architectural analysis (walking a building plan, and analyzing buildings in situ using Google Maps and on-site observation). A fundamental premise of this class is that spatial research (of buildings, places, and cities) is inherently social research (of people as envisioners and users of space). Thus, we fold ‘light ethnography’ (site observation, informal conversations, and formal interviews) into our methodological toolkit. These research methods will be used to address the form, style, and context of buildings types and landscape elements at multiple scales—from the assembling of the American grid to the building and inhabitation of individuals’ workers cottages—to examine 19th and 20th century U.S. built environment history. The American landscape, i.e. bungalows, shopping malls, libraries, courthouses, plazas, apartments, the grid, is a composite of overlapping building types and landscape elements that embody social, political, and cultural processes. Our micro exploration of one building type or landscape element points toward the larger histories, identities, and cultural transformations of individuals who are often excluded from canonical histories. Each student will conduct a research project that examines one building or landscape element in Austin using the mixed methods explored in class. We will workshop possible arguments related to this building in class as a group and approach class projects in an experimental fashion that promotes critical processes rather than finalized products.
*This course is for Graduate students only