An experiment in learning through making

This class explores the theory and practice of utopia from an interdisciplinary perspective. Utopias have always been imagined through a variety of mediums like the manifesto, the blueprint, and visual and performing arts. The course investigates the manifold scales of utopian articulation and realization, from tiny communities to project designing the entire globe. Combining the history of political thought and architectural history, the class will use the concept of utopia to map out the ways that men and women have sought to transform the spatial, psychic, and social landscapes they inhabited. What can we learn from the utopian imperative? What is the shape of utopia? How should we understand the relationship between thought and practice, hope and disappointment, idealism and realism? Projects presented range from early industrial colonies, socialist utopias, Christian communities, and anarchist utopias to settlement housing, shopping malls, and factories. The projects will be discussed in conjunction with major texts by Sir Thomas More, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Karl Marx, Robert Owen, Louis Marin, to name a few. Apart from regular writing assignments, students will engage with creative designs, building toward a final exhibition of design projects for future utopias. The course will include a field trip to Shaker’s Village.