Methods Seminars are in-depth, interdisciplinary investigations of a particular problem or theme. These seminars focus on ways of knowing the world characteristic of the disciplines represented in the seminar, such that the forms or methods of investigation are as important as the subject matter itself.
This course examines the dynamic relationship between design and our social interactions. Taking its primary evidence from the landscape of our visual world, we find equally fertile material in objects, billboards, music videos, and architecture. In each case, artifice reveals value systems both actual and aspirational. Throughout the semester we will read about and discuss historical and contemporary examples of design used both as a tool for personal liberation and also as a tool for social control and state security. In particular we will explore the construction of identity, both personal and communal, through the visual world around us with authors like Shirley Wajda, Sarah Lichtman and Theodor Adorno, among other writers and theorists. Finally we will describe contemporary boundaries; ways that artifice has guided our sense of the public and private intersection, including but well beyond our social lives mediated by technology.