Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Imagining Open Spaces- Jonathan Skinner in Philadelphia 

Jonathan Skinner will be at Temple University this year conducting a juicy, interdisciplinary seminar he calls "Imagining Open Spaces." He's also looking for a place to live in Philly until May. If you have any rental offers/propositions, please email me at: fsherlock7@hotmail.com.

Jonathan also edits Ecopoetics -one of the most interesting litjournals around. You can download the first three issues for free.

Here's the course description for "Imagining Open Spaces":

Led by 2005-2006 External Fellow Jonathan Skinner
Sponsored by the Temple Society of Fellows in the Humanities

This interdisciplinary seminar explores the history, ecology, sociology, politics and aesthetics of green open space in North American cities, focusing on the case study of Philadelphia’s own Fairmount Park, which was partly developed from plans by perhaps the most notable landscape architecture firm in the history of urban planning. The legacy of Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s firm is a core object of this course. We will study the landscape aesthetics behind Olmsted’s designs, considering class and race in relation to his hygienic agenda and his attraction to “Southern” landscapes, as well as the catalytic role Olmsted’s parks would play in the mid twentieth-century civil rights movement. We will also look at the poetry of open spaces—Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” the “Sunday in the Park” section of William Carlos Williams’s Paterson; the on-foot, projective geographies of Charles Olson’s The Maximus Poems; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s polemical poetry garden, Little Sparta; Cole Swensen’s park and garden writings—and at the interventions of contemporary artists and composers: Robert Smithson’s land art; Cecilia Vicuna’s ephemeral street installations; Hildegard Westerkamp’s soundscape compositions; Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s “maintenance art.” Concepts from ecology and sociology will help ground our discussion in bioregional and demographic contexts, as we survey some of the discourse around urban landscaping: including writings on urbanism, situationist theories of walking, postmodern philosophies of space and notable contemporary landscape constructions, such as the Freshkills Lifescape project on Staten Island. The seminar involves discussion, lectures, field trips, a screening and a guest speaker or two, and demands active participation: students will be asked to pursue a project, involving onsite investigation, that essays a creative and/or critical intervention in spaces at once social and natural.

- FS

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