ARTH 405
Seminar in Architectural Criticism
Last Offered Fall 2022
Division I
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

How does one judge a building? According to its structural efficiency or its aesthetic qualities? Its social responsibility–or just its pizzazz? Depending on the building, and the critic, any of these questions might be pertinent, or impertinent. This seminar explores architectural criticism, that curious genre between literature and architecture, and looks at its history, nature and function. We will read and discuss classic reviews by historical and contemporary critics as John Ruskin, Mariana van Rensselaer, Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable and Herbert Muschamp. Insights gained from these discussions will be applied by students to writing their own reviews, which will likewise be discussed in class. Early assignments will concentrate on mechanics: how to describe a building vividly and accurately, how to balance description and interpretation judiciously, how to compare. Subsequent ones will be more synthetic, encouraging students to write bold, lively and critical essays. The ultimate goal is to develop a distinctive and effective voice, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of criticism in general.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 11
Expected: 11
Class#: 1569
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: students will write and revise six papers (5-7 pages) during the semester
Prerequisites: any 100 level ARTH course or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: junior Art History majors
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: AMST Space and Place Electives

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