Invisible Cities and Ideal States
This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.
We'll consider what societies need to survive and thrive, and design societies to our own specifications. We'll explore what we can learn about our own world -- both how it is and how it could be -- by inventing others.
Our central questions: How do the worlds we live in affect the worlds we can imagine? What can we learn about our own world's structures and possibilities by considering invented worlds? What happens when people try to build the ideal commmunity in the real world? Our first meetings will focus on fictional or invented worlds; our later meetings will examine primary sources from real-life "utopian" communities (and visit one of them, an arts-centered household in Providence). In all cases, we'll make connections between the cultures that produced them and the cultures they describe, and use our findings to invent societies of our own. Students interested in architecture, history, sociology, literature, science, medicine and bioethics, urban planning and urban studies, and will all benefit from the ideas, methods and questions of this course.
By the end of the course, students will:
- Read and understand complex texts, and respond to them in discussion and in writing
- Analyze connections between texts and the people, places and times that produced them, including both explicit and implicit content of a text; make inferences about an authors' assumptions and positions
- Extrapolate causes and effects of multiple factors and variables on a given situation
- Think responsibly, flexibly and inventively about human needs and wants
- Keep up with discussion and note-taking in a fast-paced class, and manage time for reading and written homework.
- Present and defend their work in a public setting.
Students must be able to read and write comfortably in English, and must be willing to speak in class.