A Sense of Place

Semester and Year SP 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1781
Section 1
Instructor Steve Hutkins
Days Fridays
Time 12:30 – 3:15
Units 2
Level U
Foundation Requirement HUM
Notes & Restrictions

Course meets during the first seven weeks only, Jan. 30 – March 12

Course Description

This course examines the places in which we work and play, travel and dwell–the office tower and the suburban house, the city street and the superhighway, the small town and the megalopolis, the shopping mall and the theme park, the American road and foreign places. Synthesizing insights from literary works and fields like cultural geography, landscape studies, and architectural history, we explore such questions as: What gives a place its particular feel or character? How do our values and worldview affect the way we experience places, and what constitutes that experience? How do places–and the way they are represented in literature and other media–shape our attitudes and behavior? What gives a place “quality,” and how can we design and build better places? Readings may include J. B. Jackson’s Landscape in Sight, Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place, James Kunstler’s The Geography of Nowhere, D. J. Waldie’s Holy Land, and Michael Sorkin’s Twenty Minutes in Manhattan.


The assigned readings are available through the NYU ebrary and other online sources.


1. Twelve blog posts (about 500 words each) (70%)
2. Twelve comments on other posts (100 words) (10%)
3. In class: participation, attendance, etc. (20% of final grade)

(No Incomplete grades.)


(for details, see the Assignments page)

Week 1: Definitions
Essays by Cross, Massey, Meinig
Week 2: Lost and found
Bachelard, Busch, Tuan, and bell hooks 1. Topophilia
White, Social Life of Small Urban Spaces 2. Social Spaces
Week 3: Knowing where you are
Lynch, Image of the City 3. City Form
Essays on wayfinding 4. Orientation
Week 4: Cities & Suburbs
Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities 5. Utopias
Selections from Kunstler, Hayden, and Flint 6. Suburbia
Week 5: Landscapes & Buildings
Essays by J. B. Jackson 7. Vernacular
Readings on architecture 8. Buildings
Week 6: Non-places & New York
Relph, Place and Placelessness 9. Non-Places
Essays by Mitchell, White, Didion, Frazier 10. New York Stories
Week 7: Making places
Lippard, Lure of the Local 11. Spirit of Place
Selected readings 12. Placemaking



The blog posts are due on Mondays and Thursdays. The comments on other people’s posts can be done a day or two later. (These are important deadlines, and the website makes it easy to track them.)


In writing your posts, you are encouraged to copy and paste quotations from scholarly articles and other websites, but it is extremely important that you cite your source (author or title) and provide a link to it. The blog posts are a form of academic writing, and plagiarism is a serious violation of the rules of academic integrity.


The class is a discussion seminar and meets only seven times, so attendance is very important and part of the final grade.


Office: 1 Washington Place, room 608
Phone: 998-7361
E-mail: ssh1@nyu.edu
Office Hours: Fridays, 11-12:30; 3:15 – 4:00; appointments recommended.