Ana María León
Description: American architecture prior to the arrival of Europeans receives scant attention in survey courses of the Americas. To remedy this, this course considers the history of architecture and urban planning in the Americas before the European arrival. It is developed as a half semester supplement limited to 15 lectures. The intention is that GAHTC members can utilize the entire half semester program to develop a balanced course on the architectural traditions of architecture in America, or they can select certain traditions to broaden the scope of other global histories during the periods covered. The relative isolation of the American continent makes it a challenge for global surveys of architecture prior to 1492. Even so, a global view of the Americas and its place in global architectural history enriches both the understanding of the Americas prior to European arrival and after its colonization. Further, an exploration of the Americas provides discussion of important traditions that still mark the architectural landscape of the western hemisphere. While this course will primarily focus on the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans, it will also address the effects of European activity on the continent insofar as it affected the existing architectural traditions, as well as the repercussions of contact in the global circulation of goods, peoples, images and ideas after the European arrival. Topics covered (see list of major buildings, sites, objects, etc.), will include the arrival of humans to the Americas approximately 13,000 BCE and the major architectural traditions that developed on the American continent. The effects of goods such as cotton, corn, stone, and turquoise on the perceived relationship of humans to the land and the attending shifts in architecture are used to introduce students to different regions and time periods. How do these geographic, agricultural, and geological constraints inform different cultural formations? Different scales of governance and administration, from villages and cities to city-states and empires will also be of primary importance. At the architectural scale, the course will discuss building types such as the tipi and lavvu, pit houses, mounds and ceremonial plazas, wigwams, longhouses, shabonos, and temples.
Description: Lecture Organization: First, we will examine the general concepts and principles of “the spirit of place” and “critical regionalism” Next, we will look at a few representative examples of architecture from different parts of the world through the lenses of “the spirit of place” and “critical regionalism.” We will then turn our attention to examples of modern architecture in Greece and Turkey. We will compare the work of architects Sedad Eldem (from Turkey) and Dimitris Pikionis (from Greece) Finally, we review the urban history of Thessaloniki (Salonica), a city in Greece with multiple layers of history and building traditions.
Description: Each lecture focuses on the overarching theme of how global modernity was made through specific moments of intercultural “encounter” (including war and colonization). ‘Local’ cultural production, aesthetics, and art making traditions should always be linked to larger geopolitical transformations. Key will be to explain how societies transformed each other in the context of the rise of capitalist globalization and how this “encounter” catalyzed a new way of being in the world. How do the arts reflect or produce this new sensibility of global connectedness?
Description: This lecture provides an overview of Armenian Church architecture. It sets the architectural tradition within the landscape and history of the Armenian plateau. Armenian churches flourished in the medieval period and developed a distinctive construction method, floor plan, and decorative style. Each example is considered in the context of regional and global architectural currents, including Byzantine and Iranian. The lecture also considers the legacy of medieval Armenian architecture on later building styles, as well as later stages of Armenian architecture. Bringing the narrative to the contemporary period, the lecture considers the revival of medieval Armenian forms in the diaspora, including a community church in New York. The final section explores the divergent ways in which medieval Armenian architecture has been turned into cultural heritage and included in preservation practices, in the case of three modern states that comprise Armenian monuments on their territory: the Republic of Armenia, Iran, and Turkey.
Description: Among the wide range of materials that humans consume, substances such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and tobacco seem to form a separate category: humans take these so-called stimulants or psychoactive substances less for their nutritional benefits than for their capabilities in altering their moods or the status of their minds. The fact that materials containing similar chemical compounds were used in different regions of the world underscores their inherent physiological appeal to humans. Yet there has always been much more to these substances than their biological effect; perhaps more than any other kind of food or drink, these substances have been capable of taking on cultural and social significance. Indeed, in all human societies, material spaces formed around the collective consumption of stimulants show distinctive physical features. The architecture of a Japanese teahouse, an Ottoman coffeehouse, or an eighteenth-century Parisian cafe cannot be explained without understanding the rituals and customs associated with the consumption of tea or coffee. This module of five lectures traces the introduction and dissemination of stimulants and other substances (coffee, tobacco, tea, sugar, chocolate, etc.) across the globe and offers a history of related architectural types (coffeehouses, teahouses, smoking rooms, etc.) from the sixteenth century onward. The lectures consider the material context of these substances in different scales, ranging from utensils to interior spaces and broader urban landscapes. Routes of transfer will be explored along with the development of new forms of sociability and new architectural typologies.
Ana María León,
Description: This lecture course unpacks spaces of contestation and encourages students to think critically about how specific sites and objects have participated in the construction of class, race, and gender. Building on the histories of art and architecture, the course proposes the category of “space” as an alternative to the geographic, aesthetic, and analytic categories that have shaped the canons of these two disciplines. The lectures address those historically excluded from these canons, problematizing agency and authorship in art and architectural history. Through close attention to the way objects and sites structure social relations and index broader networks of power, economy, and governance, we use a relational approach to world history that continually shifts the gaze between Western and non-Western perspectives. Each lecture addresses a type of “space” central to the formation of modernity—Colony, Plantation, School, Prison, Kitchen, and Closet—and introduces that space by way of discussions centered on objects and sites from different historical times and geographical locations. We start in 1492, a moment of encounter that generated contacts, trade and exchange and led to the construction of modernity and its myths. We trace the networks of colonial trade and slave exploitation, connecting distant sites and reciprocal influences. We insist on a non-western-centric history of pedagogical spaces and objects, and broaden the concept of prison as a territory of confinement and segregation. Finally, we explore the kitchen as a source of both community and segregation, and the closet as a metaphorical construction of secrecy and forbidden sexuality. The use of a core spatial construct as the base of each lecture enables the course to range broadly within a long date span while also offering students concrete, in-depth knowledge of key objects and sites. By examining these contested spaces, our course challenges canonical narratives and reveals the fundamental role of class, race, and gender struggle in the construction of modernity.
Michelle Moore Apotsos
Description: This lecture explores how earth has been conceptualized and integrated into African thought and architectural practice as material, metaphor, environment, and intervention over time. Some of the first known man-made environments on the African continent were carved out of rock features in the landscape, and from this point of origin, cultures across the continent would proceed to develop a variety of distinctive architectural traditions and material practices that were regularly governed by the availability of specific materials in their environment, namely dirt, clay, and other substances derived from the earth. Students will engage with these structures using cross-disciplinary methodologies ranging from art and architectural history to anthropology and environmental studies to critically analyze the physical and conceptual strategies deployed at these sites over time and space with regards to the material and meaning of earth. In particular, they will explore how environmental material like earth came to signify important socio-political, cultural, and spiritual messages in the architectural landscape.
Sean Harland McPherson
Description: This course focuses on the architectural traditions and conventions of East Asia, especially those of China, Korea, and Japan, and highlights the cross-cultural aspects of their great cities and monuments. The aim is to reveal that what has often been considered “traditional” in Asia was actually a constantly evolving process driven by dynamic cultural exchanges among different cultures and civilizations of its extensive regions. “Globalization” is not an invention of the contemporary world, but the driving force behind the development of the great architectural traditions linking different cultures in East Asia.
Description: The general aim of this module is to help frame the beginning of a survey of architectural history. Lectures are designed to be a little over an hour long, but can be lengthened or shortened or combined as required. The material covers some basic aspects of First Society cultures (Lectures 1-4) and the transition to agriculture, pastoralism and city building (Lectures 6-10).
Daniel A. Barber,
Description: This GAHTC module focuses on the global history of climate as a consideration in architectural ideas and practices. It is intended to operate either as a ‘stand-alone’ subject in relevant courses, or as part of a broader history of global architecture or of architecture and the environment. Through a series of six lectures, the module describes how climatic concerns have developed as an input to architectural design processes in many different global regions. The historical record of architectural-climatic engagement also brings up relations to new forms of governance, to the role of science in architectural developments, and to issues of architectural representation and communication. As such, through the rubric of climate, a broad interdisciplinary perspective is brought to bear on the global development of architecture.
Christian A. Hedrick
Description: Islamic art and architecture, like any other form of art that attempts to characterize the material production of a particular faith or variety of cultures over the longue durée, simply cannot be understood as an autonomous artistic development. Indeed, scholars of Islamic art and architecture, over the past decade or so in particular, have demonstrated that the field is characterized by a dialogic process of development rather than an autonomous or mimetic one that depends on its Western counterpart. Thus, the inherent challenge to those who teach the subject is to simultaneously convey the idea that Islamic architecture is an integral part of the broader, indeed global, history of architecture, while maintaining the idea that the field remains distinct enough to be characterized as its own discipline. Therefore, this module presents a history of Islamic architecture through the lens of five [construction] materials and techniques. Each lecture takes as its subject a building technique or material and traces its global range and influences in the development of the subject. By making specific materials or techniques on related topics within the overall theme of a traditional sub-category of “Islamic Architecture” available, this project strives to make substantial progress in the teaching of the subject as it relates to global studies. In other words, this module seeks to engage aspects of this sub-discipline dialogically with the ‘global’ in a mutualistic reciprocal relationship of interaction and exchange. Indeed, the study of Islamic art is an excellent way to access the “global” history of architecture, which will be demonstrated by the series of lectures that seek to place its development within the broader trends and themes so characteristic of the ‘global’. By making specific material including lectures on a variety of related topics available, this project strives to make substantial progress in the teaching of the subject as it relates to global studies. What follows then is not the way, or only way to approach the teaching of Islamic art and architecture, but rather a way that I believe will significantly enhance how and what students learn. We encourage students to think about the “Why” in terms of HOW.
Description: This course presents a series of 6 introductory lectures describing the characteristics and global history of so-called ‘rock-cut’ architecture, or the subtractive architecture that is embedded within a native geological mass. Such structures are found worldwide, in history and even today. As residences, churches, shrines, meditation spaces, civic structures and tombs – rock-cut architecture occupies a central place in many global civilizations. It even persists into the present day in forms such as subway systems, underground market spaces, and the occasional itinerant work of architecture. Our goal will be to produce a series of introductory lectures that enable teachers of architecture and art history to present this material in a conceptually rich and globally situated manner. One of the key ways in which we will engage the global history of the rock-cut will be through the framework of structures. The space-shaping potential of the freestanding structural form is the hallmark of tectonic architecture – from the beams and columns of Greek temples to the flying buttresses of the Gothic Cathedrals. In ‘rock-cut’ architecture, the structure is deeply integrated with the native earth, with structural properties that derive directly from the geology of the site and place. Construction is focused on material to be removed, not structure to be assembled. The native stone guides the gravity forces around the carved space, not to a ground plane below, but simply deeper into the earth – a resolution of forces that can never be precisely determined. This property will be emphasized to adduce discussions that are both philosophical and practical.
Description: This course presents a series of 7 introductory lectures locating the pre-islamic architecture of sub-continental south Asia in its global context. The emphasis in this module is not on identifying the characteristics that supposedly make the architecture of South Asia distinctive ‘Indian’ or ‘Hindu’, but to understand a. what the characteristics and meanings of so-called Indian architecture are, and b. to locate these in terms of their local and global contexts. My goal will be to produce a series of introductory lectures that enable teachers of architecture and art history to present this material, which is often completely incomprehensible to Western teachers and students, in an introductory but conceptually rich and globally situated manner. The lectures in this module discuss the conceptual meaning of architectural forms, the political and economic motivations for them and their global, mostly East Asian, references.
Adnan Z Morshed
Description: These five lectures revisit architectural histories (itihasas) of the Indian Subcontinent from multidisciplinary, cross-geographical, and interpretive perspectives, supported by a new body of scholarship and archaeological data. The word for “history” in Sanskrit is itihasa, which has traditionally meant “that’s what happened” or “so indeed it was.” Yet, iti (as in itihasa) is often used in a Sanskrit sense of “end quote.” Itihasa, therefore, in its traditional usage has often been infused with a host of subjectivities. In other words, it implies not so much what happened as what people said or thought happened. Taking clues from the politics of itihasa and its fact/fiction problematics, these lectures look at familiar and neglected materials of Subcontinental architecture and cities, with a view to creating a fuller and nuanced body of architectural-survey teaching modules, to be used at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Description: This course proposes to analyze the global turn as it relates to the industrial revolution and the regimes of circulation of goods and commodities, knowledge, experts, techniques, people, and labor that it introduced and supported. We contend that these regimes posed new challenges to the discourse and practices of modern architecture that yielded substantial innovations during the mid nineteenth century that changed and consolidated in the second half of the twentieth century to the present. Each of the six modules focuses on a particular regime of circulation and thus provides the epistemology framework with which to engage with phenomena and buildings that are grouped thematically and chronologically.
Michelle Moore Apotsos,
Description: This course aims to provide an introduction to the growing importance of cultural heritage and historic preservation. Over the past decades, fostered not the least through international organization like UNESCO’s World Heritage Center or the New York based World Monuments Fund, heritage preservation has become a global movement. Following a historical and comparative perspective the course seeks to go beyond the Euro-American understanding of architectural heritage which is still very much the standard in international advisory preservation bodies like ICOMOS and ICCROM and address different perspectives, value systems, and frameworks of memory that play a role in heritage as a global phenomenon. As such, this course is designed as a tool to both study and question historic preservation and architectural conservation. A critical conceptual exploration dominates over technological problems in that aspects of conservation methods are discussed only insofar as they help to understand the effects and dynamics of historic preservation.
Description: The cultural and artistic traditions that developed around the shores of the Mediterranean have traditionally been studied as autonomous developments. When exchanges or borrowing were acknowledged, they usually focused on the influence that European motifs had on the Eastern Mediterranean, starting in the eighteenth century. The aim of this project is to focus on preceding centuries, illuminating the rich web of cultural, artistic and especially architectural exchanges that crisscrossed the Mediterranean before modernity. The current of such borrowings, adaptations and reinterpretations crossed the Mediterranean, frequently flowing westward rather than eastward. The anecdotal evidence that has been offered for the direction of that flow, which crossed religious as well as national and geographic boundaries, has encountered ideological resistance. Our aim is to focus on the architectural evidence to lay a first systematic and unequivocal basis for the argument that borrowings and cross-pollination gave rise to multiple but related architectural languages across a region roughly extending from the Caspian Sea to the European shore of the Atlantic. While we will rely on visual evidence to remedy the scarcity of textual documentation for such early periods we do not aim to offer formal or typological comparisons. Rather, we intend to ground our discussion historically, formulating hypothesis concerning the physical routes, nodes, workshops and forms of transmission along which ideas, including architectural ones—schemes, motifs, structural systems—traveled, were adopted and adapted.
Manu P. Sobti,
Description: What are Peripheries of Contact - Beyond Geographies and Historical Flatland? How can this be conceptually examined? - Overarching concept of Periphery (versus the center) as a way of looking at history - The Periphery akin to a thick ‘cultural zone’ or liminality, versus a line or separation - The Periphery as a zone of contact and exchange, versus separation and difference - The Periphery giving rise to synthesis, hybridity and invention - Centers with Peripheries versus Peripheries as interregnums
Adnan Z Morshed
Description: Earth is 70 percent water, but only 2.5 percent of this superabundant liquid is fresh. And, two-thirds of this minuscule amount of fresh water is inaccessible— locked away in ice caps, glaciers, and rocky underground aquifers. Only a tiny fraction of Earth’s potable water is readily available to humans. Even though this hydro-ecological view of the planet is a modern one, it should, nonetheless, paint a broader historical picture of how both access to and management of water were as critical to the Neolithic farming communities in the Levant or the Yellow River valley of northern China, as they are to 21st-century society. The domestication of water was at the epicenter of first-society geopolitics of agriculture, migration, division of human labor, and production of space.
Description: Southeast Asia is unique in the world because of the intersection of environmental, geologically and geographic realities. As a tropical environment, it supplied cinnamon, scented woods, bird’s nest and a vast array of other luxury, forest goods. Geologically, it possessed gold, gems and diamonds and geographically, located between Indian and China, it could supply these luxury goods to eager markets. The people who lived there were, in one way or another, forest-based animist cultures whose villages were oriented around sacred rivers and mountains. In the period before about 200 CE, the transfer of goods and materials was relatively informal. Distances were formidable and sea traffic dependent on trade winds and other contingencies. Even so, Roman coins at Oc Eo, a port site in Vietnam are testament to the emerging connectivity. By 200 CE, we see the first expansions of Indian traders into Southeast Asia. Along with their India-centric world views, they colonized and fused with local chiefdom to create a type of palace-based environments that in turn served as stepping stones from port to port, thickening the geo-political landscape. By 800 CE, this model of cultural expansion, known as Indianization, was in full swing, by 1200, it was at its peak. Powerful and independent kingdoms and mini-states had now formed that controlled both extraction and trade with palace-based elites building world-class structures, temples and palaces. Most of the lectures will therefore focus on this period – 400 to 1200 – as that was period where we see a vast array of buildings being built, along with ambitious water-engineering projects that introduced rice cultivation as a key element in the power structure of the day. Most of the palace-based economies were based on local wealth generation from the forest, control of the shipping lanes with rice agriculture as a stabilizing caloric foundation. The Khmer pushed all of this to the limits and their collapse at the end of the 13th century had devastating regional impact. The collapse was a consequence of over-stressing the land. It was also a result of the ascendency of the Mongolians, who based their economic viability on steppe trade routes, and so it was to their interest to close of the south as much as possible. In this downturn we see new regimes vying for power and the introduction of Islamic states, the Sultanate of Brunei, for example, paving the way to the arrival of European colonialism.
Description: “Sites and Systems of Global Colonialism” is a survey course that introduces students to building cultures, landscapes and urbanisms in an already globally connected world from the colonial era through 1900. The course examines multiple overlapping systems by which the practices of human cultures have come to be interconnected around the world over time. It is a history of the world through architectural evidence, and a history of architecture through a global perspective. The “Sites and Systems” approach is informed by systems theory perspectives arising from within the social sciences, especially sociology. It builds on and problematizes the international political-economy methods of World Systems Research and Braudelian approaches by examining specific selected cases grounded in actual cultural-spatial-material conditions. The complex and vital lenses of architectural analysis applied to sites, cities, and material systems, at scales ranging from tectonic details to global infrastructures of exchange, inform and contest our understandings of distributed networks.
Peter H Christensen
Description: This course has been created for professors of architectural history in institutions of higher education. You can use the course as is, with modifications and total transformation We have added the names of the faculty and scholars who have created this material as part of the information for instructors, but users are most welcome to replace them with their names without fear of infringing on copyright. This is an open source teaching material.