Philadelphia: Urban Experience and Public Memory

This seminar will challenge students to encounter and interpret the city around them in unconventional ways.  At a time when public commemoration has vigorously and sometimes violently re-entered our country’s public discourse, we wish to re-examine how monuments, memory, politics, and our senses shape our understandings of Philadelphia’s past, present, and possible futures.  Our focus is on two intertwined themes: How we remember and What we remember.  Treating monuments, films, and historical texts as key forms of interpretation – the building blocks of an official if unstable “public past,” we will likewise attend to the “backdrop” of such written and built statements: everyday urban and domestic life as well as more public histories that have remained silent or risen to the surface at key moments.

Instructors: David Barnes, History and Sociology of Science, School of Arts and Sciences and Aaron Wunsch, Historic Preservation/Landscape Architecture, School of Design