Prototyping Utopia

Parsons School of Design: Art, Media & Technology

Non-Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Graduate Course

Degree Students

Prototyping Utopia

Fall 2019

Taught By: Killeen Hanson

Section: A

CRN: 7595

Credits: 3

Oscar Wilde reminds us that “a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing… Progress is the realization of Utopias.” In 1774, Mother Ann Lee and eight “Shaking Quakers” landed in New York Harbor and embarked on one of America’s greatest social experiments. Over the next two centuries, the spiritual utopian communities founded by the Shakers made way for secular successors including the Fouriers, Oneidans, Drop City, Rajneeshpuram, and countless others. Regardless of underlying ideology, each American utopia was founded in direct response to particular social, political, and economic stressors of the times: the spiritual prosecution of the 18th century; the industrial revolution in the 19th century; and the unjust wars, civil unrest, and culture of consumption that took hold in the 20th century. The prototype nature of each new visionary project captured the American imagination, speculating that small, planned communities might be the ideal mechanisms with which to remake the world. With today’s unprecedented wealth gap, a looming climate crisis, and a increasing disconnect between our physical lives and the expectations of digital culture, now seems a time ripe for new utopian prototypes. Students will spend 15 weeks investigating the ideal of utopia through critical theory, hands-on making, and a weekend design/build residency at the Hancock Shaker Village Museum (Pittsfield, MA). Students will have unique access to Shaker artifacts and archival materials and will use these primary sources alongside works of art, literature, and social history to examine the history of utopias and the ways in which ideologies take shape in designed objects, spaces, and social systems. Students will then turn a designer’s eye to today’s social, technological, environmental, economic, and political landscape to design and propose speculative objects, spaces, and systems for a future utopia.

Open to: All University Graduate students.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Art, Media & Technology (PSAM)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2019 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 6:47am 12/7/2019 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday

Times: 12:10pm - 2:50pm

Building: Parsons 2 W 13th

Room: 801

Date Range: 8/26/2019 - 12/16/2019