This seminar explores the intersecting social and cultural histories of photography and the urban and suburban built environment. No prior background in photography is necessary. Since its inception in 1839, photography has provided a critical means for representing urban space. The medium has helped to celebrate the great structures of the industrial city, reform cities from the Progressive Era through urban renewal, critique expanding postwar suburbs, and document change in the post-industrial and post-disaster city. In all of these ways, the photograph has been both a reflection of the city and an agent of its transformation. Our subjects each week will include individual images and larger photographic archives. We will discuss not only the creation of these images, but also their application in design and planning discourse. Although technical training in photography is not expected, students will have a chance to construct a photo-essay of their own. Through our investigations, we will collectively explore how photography's dual documentary and aesthetic properties have shaped the city—physically, socially, and culturally.
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