A Sense of Place

Semester and Year SP 2016
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. 29 – March 11

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, and D. J. Waldie’s Holy Land.


The assigned readings are available online.


1. Twelve blog posts (about 500-600 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: The Experience of Place, The Spirit of Place
Essays by Hiss, Tuan, etc.  1. Experience
Essays by Lippard, Durrell, etc.  2. Spirit
Week 2: People in places
Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Places 3. Social life
Lynch, The Image of the City 4. Orientation
Week 3: Utopian Visions
Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities 5. Utopias
Readings on modern and postmodern architecture 6. Architecture
Week 4: Vernacular and Placelessness
Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere 7. Suburbia
 J. B. Jackson on the everyday landscape 8. Landscape
Week 5: Contested space and the shock of the new
 J. B. Jackson on the everyday landscape 9. Landscape
 Relph, Place and Placelessness 10. Placelessness
Week 6: Place constructions and Fabricating Place
Massey, A Global Sense of Place 11. Cosmopolitanism
Week 7: A Sense of Place 2.0
Readings on SOP in a digital age 12. SOP 2.0



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.  If you miss a class, you can partly make it up by doing a few extra comments.


Office: 1 Washington Place, room 608
Phone: 212-998-7361
E-mail: ssh1@nyu.edu
Office Hours: Fridays, 11-12:30; 3:15 – 4:00; appointments recommended.