ARC 627: Utopias Our New Rorschachs”: Architecture Futures, World-building, and Trouble-making

artist Jason Courtney, of a scene in Oryx and Crake.

Photo: artist Jason Courtney, of a scene in Oryx and Crake.

In this course, students read broadly across disciplines and time periods, texts bound by their critical engagement of speculative futures in the built environment: science fiction, architectural history and theory, art and literary criticism.

Themes will be established in the beginning of the semester which will act as connective tissue between these diverse forms of writing. These themes will be grounded by core texts: 1) myths of wilderness and technology (William Cronon and Leo Marx); 2) the Anthropocene and the apocalypse (Kathryn Yusoff and Donna Haraway); 3) ecological commons and public space (Bruno Latour and Timothy Morton)

The course will focus specifically on the ways that the built environment can be uniquely read as a registration of broader social, economic, and cultural conditions within these speculative texts. Authors include: William Morris, E.M. Forester, Cixin Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, China Mieville, Margaret Atwood, and Rivers Solomon. Texts will be organized around a series of topics—magical realism, Afrofuturism, empire and industrialization, cyborg bodies—always situating texts within their historical and disciplinary contexts through discussion and research around related architectural precedents.