Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Picturing Absence: Aesthetics of Gentrification
Monday | Wednesday: 8:00 - 9:30am
Ever since the rise of industrialization led to rapid urbanization, residents of Western cities have debated the co-existence of extreme wealth and poverty in their neighborhoods. Since the word “gentrification” was coined in the 1960s, many US cities have witnessed a rapid acceleration of neighborhood upgrading hand-in-hand with the displacement of the poor and working class, leading to perennial arguments about the causes and effects of these changes. This course will supplement socio-economic understandings of gentrification by examining how urban change is enabled by normative concepts embedded in the built environment and in visual representations of urban space. Urban design projects and urban plans, for instance, are some of the primary means through which arguments about urban change have been made. These representations are often laden with assumptions about decorum, morality, political economy, race, class, consumption, and ultimately about what and who the city is for.
Throughout the course, students will practice writing and making analytical arguments about a variety of texts and visual media, ranging from planning documents to renderings and music videos. Course materials will focus primarily on gentrification in the US since the late 1960s, understanding both race and class as central to displacement and the rise of homelessness in this period. Students will learn how to analyze buildings and urban environments in terms of race and class consumption and as cultural landscapes. In the second half of the semester, students will work on individual research projects culminating in a 10-12 page paper.