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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2006

AMS 330 • Modernism in American Design and Architecture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28595 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
ART 1.120

Course Description

This lecture course is intended to provide a broad knowledge of major issues in the history of American design and architecture from about 1880 to the present. The central assumption of the course is that our environments both shape us and reflect what manner of people we are. The term design is understood to include all elements of the built environment ranging from the smallest artifacts and products through buildings (whether vernacular or elite) to the shape of suburban and urban landscapes. Students are encouraged to consider design in the context of social and cultural history. Among topics to be considered are methods of cultural analysis of material artifacts; the rise, triumph, and fall of functionalism and the International Style; the emergence of uniquely American varieties of commercial design in a consumer society; the interactions of technology, economics, and design; the impact of the automobile on all levels of design; the rise of postmodern design and deconstructive architecture as counters to the modernist tradition; and design for the information age. Among problems to be considered are tensions between tradition and novelty, between functional and expressive theories of design, between elite ideologies and popular desires, and between European and American design.


Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture Carma Gorman, The Industrial Design Reader Jeffrey Meikle, Design in the USA John Kasson, Amusing the Million Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV Michael Sorkin, Variations on a Theme Park


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