ARCH 3308/6308/4408/6408
The Architectures of Genre

A woman grabbing the hand of a man standing in front of a sliding glass door with another man laying on the ground on the other side who appears to be dead.

Detail of Belgian poster for La Robe Déchirée "The Tattered Dress", directed by Jack Arnold, 1957. photo / provided

  • Instructor: Val K. Warke
  • Time: W 10:10 a.m.⁠–⁠12:10 p.m.
  • Location: 157 E. Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Representation

Is it possible for an act of architecture to be invited in through the front door, and then to upset or even replace the furnishings inside? Is it possible for a presumably familiar work to budge an anesthetized audience from complacency? Is it possible for architecture—normally the mute, compliant servant of a static social order—to introduce perceptions that would otherwise be kept unseen? Not only has "genre" had bad press since the onset of the twentieth century, but it's gone largely ignored in terms of its implications for architectural design. Quite a shame, really, because virtually every creative discipline seems to operate through genres. Embedded in the genres of popular architecture, for example—not the franchised drive-thrus (meticulously premeditated contrivances, really), but the moose lodges, the health clubs, the organic food markets, the amusement piers, the biker bars, the mirror-glassed office buildings, the exotically-trussed sports venues, to name a few—there linger the biases, aspirations, and discursive interrelationships of a multitude of cultures and sub-cultures. Penetrating this embeddedness can bring to the surface a lexicon of formal significations as written and read by a public. It can also lead to an examination of the various mechanisms, latent within forms, that serve to perpetuate hegemonic structures and render entire cultures sedate if not content. This course proposes a better acquaintance with genres and their operative modes—with genericity—and with the recent and rapid rise of manipulated genres: feminist-inflected science fiction, religious heavy metal, bowling raves. —Because architecture always needs to find techniques for sharpening its aim as well as for honing the means and motives of its messages.

Instructor permission required:

Upon attendance of first class.

View a PDF of this class description.


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