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robertogreco : thecanon   5

Editorial - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"Syllabi are theory’s infrastructure. While they are not the same as the essays, lectures, books, case studies, films, and other media organized by them, they can and should be seen as theoretical contributions in their own right, and subjected to the same degree of critical reflection, scrutiny, and innovation. Syllabi set a program for study, give structure to vast networks of ideas, and define an interpretative stance on the world. Focusing attention on syllabi—which texts they include, and how they are organized and framed—offers a window into larger problems facing the field of architectural theory today.

Architectural theory went through an academic renaissance in the 1970s and 1980s, with scholars forging new links with groundbreaking theoretical movements of the time, from feminism and postcolonialism to semiotics, phenomenology, and deconstructivism. New syllabi were formed in architecture curricula that incorporated contemporary discursive practices, positions, and sensibilities. Yet the syllabi for such classes have not developed significantly since then. Architectural theory in academic curricula today is often addressed either through a history of theoretical concerns—from mimesis, analogy, beauty, honesty, and utopia to modernity, alienation, authenticity, regionalism, contextualism, autonomy, and postmodernity—a tabulation of theoretical frameworks—from structural linguistics, marxism, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology to feminism, deconstruction, and postcolonialism—or a roster of authors—from Vitruvius, Alberti, Laugier, Perrault, Boullée, Durand, and Ruskin to Le Corbusier, Loos, Meyer, Jacobs, Alexander, Banham, Venturi, Scott-Brown, Norberg-Schulz, Rowe, Rossi, Tafuri, Eisenman, Jencks, and Koolhaas.

Academic courses that address more urgent contemporary issues and diverse geographies are too often allocated to specialized fields, institutions, or spaces of study, such that they rarely come to challenge the canon of architectural theory’s increasingly standard model. Theory is one of the necessary ingredients for the maintenance of the discipline of architecture as a synthetic manifestation connecting history, criticism, and practice. Therefore, theory must overcome the institutional inertia of pedagogical reproduction, the neoliberalization of intellectual labor, and the disorientation of informational media, and rearticulate its necessary role. At an infrastructural level of knowledge production, theory must attend to the changing nature of cultural communication, globalization and calls for inclusivity within the social space of discourse, and the economic logics driving planetary collapse.

The starting point for any reformulation of architectural theory should be the ways we learn. The conditions of contemporary thought itself have been transformed over the past decades by new media platforms and the emergent practices of surveillance capitalism. The old attentional economy that once sustained reflective and critical thought has been replaced by an economy of distraction. The work of analyzing difficult texts has become alien to digital natives young and old, who are habituated to a culture of instant access, skimming, and the hypnotic rhythm of clicks, taps, and swipes. When video tutorials appear more engaging and specific than the seemingly dated writing styles of even a decade ago, the habits of reading, thinking, and writing common to theory’s past must be re-imagined.

This expanding space of communications has accompanied intensified intercultural exchanges brought about by global economic integration, migration, and the resultant pressing together of different peoples, cultures, and ways of life. Theory’s debt to a Western tradition of philosophical, historical, and critical reason has been brought into question. Architecture’s theoretical discourse needs to respond to the critique of Western-centrism and the calls for its provincialization. It must address the question of opening up to alternative epistemologies and broader methods of discourse production, be they poetic, practical, symbolic, moral, magical, or mythic as much as philosophical or metaphysical. Provincializing Western architectural theory is one way to address the social struggles and conflicts between identity groups that have intensified with the proverbial shrinking of the world. In this vein, theory must reflect on who constructs architecture’s theoretical canon, who speaks as a theorist, who theory speaks about, and who theory addresses as its audience. While embracing the concrete political gains in the social redistribution of power among different genders, races, sexualities, and class backgrounds, theory should also question the role of identity as an operator within discourses, institutions, and national politics, and critically reflect on both its essentializations and constructed nature.

The globalization of culture is, for better or worse, supported by global, transnational, and neoliberal economic practices and their consequent forms of ecological destruction. As much as the global can provincialize theory, the global can also further focus theory upon the new ethico-political demand created by the explicit awareness of technological convergence and impending planetary collapse. With the recent granting of a new geological epoch to our species, we have passed a threshold of irreversible awareness that modern dreams of progress, infinite economic growth, and unlimited consumerist self-expression produce the counter-effects that turn dreams into nightmares. Yet while causes remain global, their effects are often local and asymmetrical, demanding that we theorize both a new hermeneutics of our technological being and a new ethics and politics of the earth.

In challenging architectural theory, these historical factors hold the capacity to reenergize and rethink its relationship to its traditional concerns, frameworks, authors, organizations, and geographies that shape its curricula. They might even force the most basic of existential questions for architectural theory itself: what is it for, today? At its very minimum, we can understand theory to be an instrument for socializing architects into a shared vocabulary and tradition, both within and outside of the discipline, as well as a means for providing a forum for ideological debate between the many conflicting practices that compose the field of architecture. But should architectural theory seek to renew the projective avant-garde project which it was understood to be a couple of decades ago, one capable of challenging and reorienting studio culture and professional practice more widely? Or should it keep a critical distance from design, and instead focus its lens upon the formation of the subjectivity, critical consciousness, ethical comportment, and civic duty of the architect themselves?

Theory’s Curriculum is an extra-academic initiative that seeks to provide theory with a means to challenge its existing methods of pedagogical reproduction. It seeks to build a collaborative project that brings together isolated laborers to pool ideas and methods across dispersed institutions and geographies, to compare inherited models, to detect received assumptions, and to ask fundamental questions about what and how we should teach and learn when we teach and learn architectural theory.

Collaboration is inevitably a heuristic fiction, promising what is often difficult to sustain against the dominant structures of modern individuation, today’s entrepreneurialization of the self, and the semiotic capital of discourse. It inevitably cuts across the values of wage-labor and attribution, and blurs the boundaries between professional roles, friendship, and community spirit. Yet, as McKenzie Wark has argued, the conditions of intellectual laboring in the academy today necessitate that we adopt a more realist approach to theorizing as the cumulative task of many smaller efforts, rather than the great leaps forward once marked by grand philosophical systems or public intellectuals. With these syllabi, Theory’s Curriculum seeks to reconceptualize intellectual work as the function of a general intellect, an ecology of contributions on particular themes and ideas that, when exchanged and debated, evolve as a collective project.

These syllabi aim to indicate potential avenues for progress, and in so doing prompt a debate. They are far from exhaustive, yet are free to be used, recycled, hacked, and plundered. They are offered in the spirit of further collaboration, and with the hope that they will invite others to join this nascent enterprise in the rearticulation and teaching of architectural theory today. Ultimately, they suggest that pedagogy is not secondary to theory, but that rethinking how we teach and learn theory might be central to how we theorize anew."
syllabus  syllabi  curriculum  architecture  education  highered  deign  highereducation  academia  theory  nickaxel  josephbedford  nikolaushirsch  mckenziewark  collaboration  individuation  labor  progress  pedagogy  anthropocene  neoliberalism  globalization  economics  migration  thecanon 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Christina Torres on Twitter: "writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it. "well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..." no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perp
"writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it.

"well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..."

no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perpetuates idea that ONLY white dudes write great stuff.

honestly I bless @ChimamandaReal's name nearly every day for this TED talk so I can just link to it tbh https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

really I'm just reading myself in this piece

... and not really writing because I'm on here instead lol
Still, over the past year, I've really sat with that question: how much am I actually dismantling systemic oppression in my work if I'm still teaching within the confines of its language?

yup I'm putting together a chart folks. Send me arguments you've heard in favor of the canon and your rebuttal! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CaQ7OhhZlY1V_0xfoDxtzk0QtOjzuW8TKgttoGNfxH0/edit?usp=sharing

also: anyone interested in this, please know that #disrupttexts has been doing this work and got me on this train so mad props to them

https://twitter.com/DulceFlecha/status/1116459497768275969
ever since seeing Julia Alvarez and Elizabeth Acevedo I've been thinking about how kids of color are conditioned to write for white audiences, too. who do we teach young writers to prioritize.

and its perpetuated over and over, through canon, through college admissions, through the whiteness of the profession. I keep meaning to write about it.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458774405971968
For me, one of the deepest issues is that folks defend it using the words "tradition" and "shared knowledge" ignoring the fact that it centers only SOME traditions and SOME shared knowledge.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116460583350669318
I cannot state this enough because a "shared cultural heritage" dominated by one culture at the exclusion of so many others is damaging and not a heritage I will choose to claim as my own. "Educational malpractice"...

https://twitter.com/triciaebarvia/status/1116638447484190720
Yup. And reminds me of what I think @Ready4rigor wrote (paraphrasing) about how all teaching is culturally responsive—it’s just a question of whose culture we’re responsive to. 🤔 #DisruptTexts

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458934582304768
So, we need to all circle around whiteness and protect it by making sure kids learn MOSTLY about it for the sake of tradition? Nah, fam...

https://twitter.com/UmmJuwayriyah1/status/1116516073673842688
Definitely, nah! As an indigenous American Muslim author, I see it happening on this side of the pond, too! Asian and/or Middle Eastern and mostly male narratives are amplified for inclusion in the canon. While Black/Brown American Muslim narratives sit outside the door.

https://twitter.com/MelAlterSmith/status/1116461945731858437
Hard to believe there are still teachers out there who have “canon defender” in their bio. Actually, it’s not hard to believe at all... sigh. 😩

#DisruptTexts #THEBOOKCHAT & #TeachLivingPoets are growing- I hope we can help to make some serious change in complicating the canon

https://twitter.com/javramgoldsc/status/1116809046437183489
Covered Octavia Butler in class this yr (tbf I'm in Uni), but I think the hopepunk canon will be a major catalyst

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116091237281533954
I’m a white woman, and even I felt like my tastes were mostly ignored in HS, except when we read something like Pride and Prejudice (optional because we can’t make the boys read about women!).

https://twitter.com/biblio_phile/status/1116092299669229568
right?!?! honestly it was a few white women I was battling this out with. I wanted to be like-- if you were given books ONLY by men, you would have been ticked. Why is that okay when it comes to race/sexuality/class/other non-canon perspectives!??!?!

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116093753641644033
It makes me wonder how much the canon-lovers read. If they had experienced more variety, some classics by other types of people, some modern books, some great graphic novels, maybe they’d be more open to teaching more variety.

https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/1116603199605989378
"History is written by the victors"~Churchill
Yes! Great stuff was written & said by victors:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created.." (only ~200 years before MLK was murdered)
"Liberty and Justice for.." [embedded: https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/904754635222663169 ]
"Land of the.." etc.
thecanon  canon  christinatorres  2019  inclusion  inclusivity  tradition  chimamandaadichie  juliaalvarez  elizabethacevedo  admissions  colleges  education  inequality  universities  culture  heritage  exclusion  gender  race  racism  sexism  octaviabutler  hopepunk  sexuality  class  diversity  classics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Film History 101 (via Netflix Watch Instantly) « Snarkmarket
"Robin is absolutely right: I like lists, I remember everything I’ve ever seen or read, and I’ve been making course syllabi for over a decade, so I’m often finding myself saying “If you really want to understand [topic], these are the [number of objects] you need to check out.” Half the fun is the constraint of it, especially since we all now know (or should know) that constraints = creativity."

[See also Matt Penniman's "Sci-fi Film History 101" list: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/6492 ]
film  netflix  history  cinema  movies  timcarmody  snarkmarket  teaching  curation  curating  constraints  lists  creativity  forbeginners  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  education  learning  online  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  web  internet  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The 101 « Snarkmarket
"Some of the teachers I remember most from college are the ones who would say something like: “Listen. There are only two movies you need to understand to understand [whole giant big cinematic movement X]. Those two movies are [A] and [B]. And we’re gonna watch ‘em.” (I feel like this is something Tim is extremely good at, actually.) It’s a step above curation, right? Context matters here; so does sequence. So we’re talking about some sort of super-sharp, web-powered, media-rich syllabus. I always liked syllabi, actually. They seem to make such an alluring promise, you know? Something like:

Go through this with me, and you will be a novice no more."
curation  curating  robinsloan  frankchimero  lists  organization  experience  expertise  teaching  learning  online  web  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  forbeginners  reference  2010  pacing  goldcoins  surveys  surveycourses  the101  education  internet  perspective  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - The Two Best Things on the Web 2010
"My top two choices, however, stood tall as perhaps the best stock I’ve had the pleasure of reading on the web, both in terms of their scope, but more interestingly about how they treated their content and audience. There’s a pattern here that I enjoy. I’d like to introduce you to them, and hopefully in the process make a bit of a point about the direction I want the web to take in the next year."

"I suppose I’m hungry for curated educational materials online. These are more than lists of books to read: they’re organized, edited, and have a clear point of view about the content they are presenting, and subvert the typical scatter-shot approach of half the web (like Wikipedia), or the hyper-linear, storyless other half that obsesses over lists. And that’s the frustrating thing about trying to teach yourself things online: you’re new, so you don’t know what’s important, but everything is spread so thin and all over the place, so it’s difficult to make meaningful connections."
education  learning  online  lists  2010  frankchimero  surveycourses  surveys  teaching  forbeginners  web  internet  curating  curation  perspective  organization  succinct  focus  design  history  constraints  creativity  thecanon  pairing  sharing  expertise  experience  the101  robinsloan  classes  classideas  format  delivery  guidance  beginner  reference  pacing  goldcoins  surveycasts 
december 2010 by robertogreco

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