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Ruins, Fragments, and Archives

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1748
Section 001
Instructor Eugene Vydrin
Days R
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



Traces of time passing, ruins are time that has turned into space, duration ossified and broken up into fragments. Fragments are things we carry out of ruins, relics rescued from the abyss of lost time. We create archives to organize the rescued and the abandoned, compiling catalogs and designing systems that are often ruins themselves. Drawing on painting, landscape architecture, psychoanalysis, philosophy, lyric and epic poetry, film and installation art, this class will explore the entanglement of nature and history and of the recent and deep past in representations of architectural and social decay—in the art and literature of ruined cottages, "picturesque" abbeys and castles, partially buried woodsheds. We will examine representations of objects redeemed from the ruins of history as well as the ruined sites in which such objects find refuge (arcades, museums, libraries). And we will consider what it means for something to outlive its usefulness, to survive itself and live on in its own afterlife. Students will write several analytic essays, building toward a research project in which they will explore and interpret a ruin of their choice. Texts may include essays by Uvedale Price, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Douglas Crimp, Robert Smithson, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Hal Foster; engravings, films, and installations by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Chantal Akerman, Ilya Kabakov, Tacita Dean, and Pat O’Neill; poetry and prose by William Cowper, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, H.D., Louis Aragon, Susan Howe, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)