ARCH 3308/6308/4408/6408
Urban Temporalities: Materialities, Practices, Subjectivities

two hands holding a picture of a street scene in front of the actual street scene

  • Instructor: Jeremy Foster
  • Time: Th 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
  • Location: 142 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3

A critical part of cities' attraction derives from the way they combine the qualities of an artefact (a material trace of human imaginaries, technologies, and governmentalities) and a landscape (a territory in which human and nonhuman are articulated in a constant state of becoming). The common thread linking these two conceptions of the city is the passage of time: each suggests a different kind of 'relative permanence,' a co-ordering of times and space that lends orientation to human existence. This class explores the diverse implications of this ontological temporality of cities, both in terms of their physical evolution and morphology, and how they are imagined, used, and experienced. In particular, we will consider how conventional ways of thinking about how cities mediate the passage of time (ie. 'collage,' 'palimpsest,' 'memory theatre') are disrupted by various phenomena associated with neoliberalization (hyperurbanization, place-consumption, construction urbanism, migration) as well as accelerating environmental change, urbicide, and the emergence of Anthropocene, spectral and 'posthistorical' time-consciousness. This simultaneous 'speeding up' and 'dehistoricization' of the passage of time is paralleled by an array of contradictory urban conditions (ie. urban shrinkage, postindustrial ruination, informalization, 'ephemeral urbanism,' museumification etc). All of these conditions suggests a need to rethink relations between human and nonhuman time, and less conventional understandings of the passage of time that have consequences for design, construction, and sustaining of built/grown environments. Using a combination of readings and mapping/plotting/scoring/other representational media, students will research and analyze the pasts, presents, and futures of a particular city through three rubrics: materialities/ecologies; mobilities/practices; and subjectivities/ temporalities. These exercises will come together in a miniexhibition at the end of the semester.

Instructor permission required:

Students must attend the first class. This course is intended for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. Representational skills would be advantageous, but not essential. With instructor permission, the class is open to students in landscape architecture, planning, and preservation, as well as other disciplines interested in the intersection between society, culture, and constructed environments.

View a PDF of this class description.