HISTART 194-002

First Year Seminar: Cell Space - The Architecture of Prison and Sanctuary

270 Tappan
TTh 10-11:30am
3 Credit Seminar

In architectural parlance, the cell is a single-unit space intended to house human bodies. Cells require that other operations critical to daily life take place outside of them. The difference between a monk's cell and a prison cell is one of operation: a monk walks out at will; a prisoner doesn't. The spaces that constitute both cells might seem eerily similar—even the materials from which they are constructed might be the same. This course studies the difference—teaching students the basics of architectural analysis along with the larger contexts of which buildings are only one part. We focus on the limits and capacities of the built environment, drawing attention to how buildings work, the effect they have on users, and the limits to what they can do.

After introducing basic architectural principles, we examine nine case studies in relation to use and context. In tandem with these case studies, we read one substantive text per week, either historical or theoretical, including among our authors theorists such as Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, and Michel Foucault as well as architectural historians and behavioral psychologists. We hone student writing skills in short weekly reports workshopped with class members. A final project will focus on ADPSR—Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (https://www.adpsr.org/), The Carceral State Project here at UM (https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/carceral-project/), or the Prison Creative Arts Project (https://lsa.umich.edu/pcap/programs.html); in it students will study the spaces of the carceral state.

Textbooks/Other Materials: Course reader available on Canvas

Course Requirements: Weekly readings; 6 short writings assignments (2 pp.); one final group project

Intended Audience: Freshman seminar

Class Format: Biweekly lecture and discussion

Estimated Cost of Materials: $50-100

HISTART Distribution Requirements: D. Europe and the US, 3. Early Modern, 4. Modern and Contemporary

This course fulfils the LSA Humanities Distribution requirement