Readings

For each reading, a pair of students will act as moderators for both the online and in class discussion of the reading, writing a primary response on the class blog that will also set up the framework for discussion in class. The primary response should be approximately 500 words, due Tuesday, the day before class, at noon. It should outline central points in the reading that the moderators feel pertain to the concerns of the class, respond to at least one of the framing questions the class blog’s Readings page, and ask a new question for other students to react to. Each student will do this once per semester.

Reading Groups; List of Weekly Experts
Group Number corresponds to numbered readings below

01 AJ Afano; Tod & Wheeler for Sep 12
02 Gaby Gugliemelli: Deutsche for Sep 19
03 Atif Azam and Omar Greene: ds4si for Sep 19
04 Julio Hernandez and Thuy Phuong Nguyen: Hayden for Oct 03
05 Solgil Oh: Fuller for Oct 17
06 Yvonne Romano: George Mckay’s Radical Gardening  for Oct 17
07 Connor Russomanno: Tod & Wheeler Official Utopias for Oct 24
08 Lauren Slowik: Mattingly essay for Oct 24
09 Natasha Tjandra and Giselle Wynn: Ecotopia reading for Oct 31
10 Britt Tapsall: Keith Hart for Nov 20
11 Firm Tothong: Hyde’s The Gift for Nov 28
12 Linda Xin: Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks ch1 for Dec 05

For September 5th
— First 9 pages from Stephen Duncombe’s Open Utopia: Introduction, up until it says, “The second book of Utopia begins…”
— Read five pages of your choice from BOOK II of Thomas More’s Utopia (same link as intro; click on the link to the right “Discuss on Social Book.” Second book begins at 49% in the Open Utopia Social Book document) ***You should have received an invite to read as a group. Click on that invite and log in. To leave comments: login, click on the “My Group” tab, then “General” then “+ comment.”

For September 12
1. Excerpts from Tod and Wheeler’s Utopia, pp. Intro 7, Plato’s Republic 21-25, Diggers 45-48, Owens & Fourier 81-91, Oneida 96-99

Questions to Consider (you can use these questions to get you started on a response to the readings if they are helpful):

  1. How are the Digger, New Harmony, Shaker & Oneida communities related to our conversation about Thomas More’s Utopia? How are they similar or different from his Utopia?
  2. What parts of these communities are still part of our culture today? What parts do you feel could not exist in our culture and why?
  3. As a designer, what can you learn from these communities about your own creative practice or the way that you operate in the world?
  4. Tod and Wheeler write that Hobbes took a pessimistic view on human nature. He felt that society needed the authority of a ruler to deal with conflict that will arise from naturally competitive human nature. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  5. The Wisconsin Fourier community voted to sell off their holdings and live on as wealthy individuals rather than a wealthy community. Ironically, Fourier wanted to create a community that satisfied individual desire. Do you feel it is possible to do both? How do you think groups / collectives / communities can accommodate individual freedom / satisfaction and still work for common good?

For September 19
2. Excerpts from Deutsch’s Evictions Art and Spatial Politics, pp. 3-17.
3. Excerpts from ds4si’s Spatial Justice pg 3 – 9

For October 03
4. Dolores Hayden’s Seven American Utopias, Chapters 1-3 & 12.

For October 17
5. Excerpts from Fuller’s Your Private Sky, “World Game
6. Excerpts from George McKay’s Radical Gardening pp 167-195 on NY Community Gardens

Questions to consider:

  1. What importance do you feel community gardens play in an urban context?  What do you think they symbolize and what role do they play in the community?
  2. Do you think community gardening or guerrilla gardening is a revolutionary act? A stage in a revolutionary act?  If so, how so, if not, why not?
  3. Fuller wrote about his proposed World Game in 1964, at a time when human knowledge seemed almost quantifiable.  He proposed digitizing the inventory of all known human trends, needs and characteristics to create databases for the game. The goal would be to make sufficient resources available to all people, without exploitation of any.  This was predicated on his “more for less” philosophy, made possible by a “design science revolution,” where much greater output would be produced from much less input of energy, resources and time.  Human trends no longer seem quantifiable and world population has increased exponentially but technology of communication and fabrication has also improved.  Do you think the balance of current systems would allow for Fullers dream?

For October 24
7. Ian Tod & Michael Wheeler’s Utopia, Official Utopias and Architect as Visionary pp. 119-147
8. Artist Interview with Marry Mattingly on Waterpod project

Questions to consider:

  • Archigram, Buckminster Fuller, and other visionary architects are often critiqued for producing ideas that are impossible to execute. Do you think that this is a problem? What is the role of the visionary in society today? How might the impossibility of realization act as a strategy of resistance?
  • Utopian projects often fail because of the way in which they are executed. What, in your opinion, are projects that might have been successful had they been implemented in a different way? Would they be more cooperative? Non-hierarchical? Structured? Inclusive? Exclusive? What does it mean to “fail” or “succeed” as a utopian project?
  • How are Mary’s projects or The Grange enacting some of these past ideas? What are they doing differently? How are they benefitting from being part of this contemporary moment?
  • Mary Mattingly says she is less interested in utopia, which she describes as something that lives in our imagination, that she is in the idea of heterotopia, which Faucault described as environments where every day rules are turned upside down, like a brothel, or carnival. Mary said she tried to situate the Waterpod this way, as some where between real and imaginary, by designing it to be a modular system that was continuously able to change, to be constantly be new. From your research in the project, do you think that actually happened? What changes do you think could / should be made for her upcoming WetLand project to be more of a heterotopia?

For October 31
9. Utopia Forever, Ch 3: Ecotopia Emerging

For November 20
10. Keith Hart’s Exchange in the Human Economy

For November 28
11. Excerpts from Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, Chapter 1
AND Excerpt from Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons.

For December 05
12. Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks ch1, Introduction. pdf version here.

Extra Readings

For Introduction:
Plato’s Republic
James Harrington’s Oceana
Elinor Ostrom’s Governing of the Commons

For Commoning the City Project:
Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities

For Ecotopia Project
Excerpts from R. Buckminster Fuller’s Utopia or Oblivion (269-292)

For Alt Value & Exchange
William Morris’s News From Nowhere ch 1 and 2

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