History of Art and Architecture: Nature in the Post-Natural Age

Organizer: Chair Prof. Ursprung
Lecturers: Dr. Emily Eliza Scott
Time: Thursdays 4:45 - 6:15pm
Location: HIL E7


This seminar will explore current thinking on the topic of 'nature', including a profusion of hybrid terms that have come into recent circulation - e.g., 'social nature', 'post-nature', 'the anthropocene'. Our aim will be to evaluate the status of nature today as well as its import for contemporary art, architecture and design practices.

Through the close analysis of texts and works, this course aims to sharpen critical and synthetic thinking skills. More specifically, students should come away clearer about their position on the contemporary status of 'nature', especially as it impacts their practices moving forward. Active class participation is expected.

Now a decade into the 21st century, we live in a world where nature appears thoroughly classified, commodified, designed, and theorized. At the same time, extreme weather events, super viruses, and other phenomena suggest that the natural world is asserting its power with unprecedented force. Many contemporary thinkers insist that 'nature' as a concept should be abandoned or, at minimum, radically reworked, and have instead proposed a range of hybrid terms - e.g., 'social nature', 'ecology without nature', 'next nature', 'the anthropocene' - and/or newly focused attention to the non-human, and even to the legal rights of nature. In this seminar, we will explore texts, artworks, films, exhibitions, built projects, and field sites in order to interrogate the category of nature and its continued usefulness today.

A syllabus, required readings, and other course materials will be published/downloadable from the website of Professor Ursprung's chair at the beginning of the semester. In addition to weekly meetings, occasional film screenings and/or guest lectures may be scheduled throughout the semester.

All lectures, readings and discussions will be held in English.

Students are required to complete readings in advance of each week, to participate in discussions, and to prepare one short oral presentation and one short position paper.

This seminar is limited to 25 students. A preliminary discussion will take place on Thursday, 19 September 2013, from 4.45-6.15pm at ETH Hönggerberg. If you wish to participate in the course, attendance at this first meeting is compulsory. Dr. Emily Eliza Scott


Dr. Emily Eliza Scott