HT: Experimental History

In this seminar we explore an emerging form of "experimental historical practice" within the fields of architecture and urban studies. This form of practice initiates methods, techniques, and media that force the history of spaces to appear in highly unconventional forms or roles - one that emphasizes the production of things as much as texts. Recent experimental historical projects include olfactory reconstructions of lost buildings; mock histories that examine what cities might look like if some of their key spaces were never built; or new forms of archives that house aspects of previously unarchived spatial matter (for example, pollution). In examining experimental history we will read literature on the philosophy of history, methods in mock, re-enacted, and counter-factual history; the creation of new forms of archives; reconstructions and preservations of ineffable matter; and other relevant forms of experimentalism from fields such as art criticism and geography. The course will entail readings, the viewing of television and film productions, and site visits. Students are expected to write weekly critical responses and to develop an experimental architectural history of a particular site in San Francisco that includes a substantial written component.