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ARCH 509 – Urban Representations & the Gendered Gaze


The seminar will begin with an examination of “street-literature”—the literary genre that grew out of the modern city, influenced by its capture on film—and of “street photography” in order to question whose voice or gaze has the authority to describe the public sphere. We will analyze the mechanisms through which these narratives are constructed as dominant, or disseminated as alternative points of view. We will then investigate the performativity of diverse perspectives in imaging the city, understanding “imaging” as a sequenced cycle of occupation (belonging), observation (the gaze), representation (textual and visual), and production (inclusive place making). We will trace the lingering presence of 19th-century attitudes both in our present conceptions of urban images and onto the urban flesh. Divided between historical analysis and creative production, the seminar will engage the character of the flâneuse as writer, painter, photographer, cartographer, and the authority of her gaze as cultural apparatus, in order to uphold a contemporary mode of urban image production specific to, rather than concealing of, its subjects. Understanding the city as the locus of the theatrum mundi, the seminar will borrow from interdisciplinary theoretical fields including film theory and visual studies, feminist performance theory, architecture, and urban design. The students will choose whether their final project will be an exercise in creative writing, a visual piece, or a group project inviting collaborations between participants with different disciplinary skillsets. The final project can be understood as an end on its own, or as process work for upcoming thesis or dissertation work.


Wed 8:30-11:30am 3146 A&AB


Mireille Roddier


Course Brief