Materiality of the Text 2005

University of Pennsylvania Spring 2004
School of Design
Doctoral Program
Department of Architecture
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.

Architecture 812: Theory, II / Materiality of the Text

Lectures/Seminars Wednesdays 10-1, Rare Book Room, Furness Library

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to the methods of scholarly inquiry and research through the analysis of a selection of writings by architects. These key documents will be considered within their disciplinary and cultural context and situated with regard to the built objects that surround them.

To give order to this broad undertaking, the semester is organized by the question of the “Materiality of the Text.” More than any other epoch preceding it, our era is marked by radical changes in the way we produce, transmit, and store textual and graphic information. In an attempt to understand la longue durée of the transmission of knowledge and thereby come to a better sense of the present transformations, this course investigates texts from Vitruvius to the contemporary as material objects that inform, and are informed by, architectural thinking. We will look to the texts not only for the arguments they contain, but also as technologies organizing and structuring knowledge and production. Our understanding of the emergence of the treatise, the manual, and architectural theory will be shaped by an investigation of how discourse forms within particular forms of media, e. g. the hand-copied codex, the printed book, the periodical, as well as present-day forms of new media. Throughout, we will consider the role of ordering, visuality, and image and the dialectic between the need to understand documents and objects on their own terms versus the historiographic drive for broader frameworks. Authors read will include architects Vitruvius, Andrea Palladio, Sebastiano Serlio, Claude Perrault, Marc-Antoine Laugier, Louis Sullivan, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, El Lissitzky, Walter Gropius, Robert Venturi, and Rem Koolhaas as well as cultural theorists and philosophers such as Roger Chartier, Marshall McLuhan, Mario Carpo, Fredrick Jackson Turner, T. J. Clark, and Giorgio Agamben.


Class will be structured around presentations and discussions. Each week, a student will present the day’s topic and the instructor will respond, situating the text under study in its context. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion during the second half of class in which all students participate.

Students will produce final papers on topics approved by the professor. These may be, but do not have to be, based on the topics students present. Students will be asked to submit abstracts and outlines of their papers during the second third of the semester for comment by the instructor. Student grades will be based on seminar presentation, participation, and the paper. The paper is due on April 30.

1 Introduction

  • Roger Chartier, “Preface” and “Communities of Readers,” The Order of Books, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), vii-24.


  • Sarah McPhee, “The Architect as Reader,” The Journal of Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 58, No. 3, Architectural History 1999/2000 (September 1999), 454-461.

2 Vitruvius: Writing and Orality, I

  • Pollio Vitruvius, Ingrid D. Rowland, Thomas Noble Howe and Michael Dewar, Ten Books on Architecture, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999).


  • Brian Vickers, “An Outline of Classical Rhetoric,” In Defence of Rhetoric, (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 1988), 1-83.

3 Vitruvius: Writing and Orality, II

  • Pollio Vitruvius, Ingrid D. Rowland, Thomas Noble Howe and Michael Dewar, Ten Books on Architecture, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
  • Joseph Rykwert, “On the Oral Transmission of Architectural Theory,” AA Files 6, May 1984,1-27.
  • Jacques Derrida, “The Pharmakon” and “The Pharmakos” in Dissemination, trans Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 95-117 and 128-134.
  • Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: the Making of Typographic Man, ([Toronto]: University of Toronto Press, 1962), 40-176.


  • Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
  • Mario Carpo, “Vitruvius, Text and Image” and “Architectural Knowledge in the Middle Ages: Orality and memory versus Script and Image,” Architecture in the Age of Printing: Orality, Writing, Typography, and Printed Images in the History of Architectural Theory, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001), 16-41.
  • Frances Amelia Yates, The Art of Memory, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).
  • Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (New York: Routledge, 1991).

4 Serlio: Typography and Classification

  • Sebastiano Serlio, Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, Sebastiano Serlio on Architecture: Books I-V of Tutte L’opere D’architettura Et Prospetiva’, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996) and Sebastiano Serlio, Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, Sebastiano Serlio on Architecture: Books VI-VII of Tutte L’opere D’architettura Et Prospetiva’, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).
  • Carpo, “Architectural Drawing in the Age of Its Mechanical Reproduction,” Architecture in the Age of Printing, 42-78.


  • Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (New York: Routledge, 1991), 117-138.
  • Lucien Febvre and Henri Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800, (London; New York: Verso, 1990), especially “The Book as a Force for Change,” 248-332.
  • Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, Canto ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
  • Lucien Paul Victor Febvre and Henri Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800, (London ; New York: Verso, 1990).
  • Anthony T. Grafton, “The Importance of Being Printed,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History vol. 11 no. 2 (Autumn 1980): 265-286.
  • Anthony Grafton, “The Humanist as Reader,” in Guglielmo Cavallo, Roger Chartier and Lydia G. Cochrane, A History of Reading in the West, Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), 179-212.

5 Palladio: Codification and Dissemination

  • Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997), including introduction by Robert Travenor.
  • M. H. Abrams, “Art-As-Such: The Sociology of Modern Aesthetics” and “From Addison to Kant: Modern Aesthetics and the Exemplary Art,” Doing Things With Texts: Essays in Criticism and Critical Theory, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989), 135-158 and 159-187.


  • Martin Kubelik, “Palladio’s Villas in the Tradition of the Veneto Farm,” Assemblage 1, 1986, 90-105.
  • Rudolf Wittkower, Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, (New York: Random House, 1965).
  • Rudolf Wittkower, Palladio and Palladianism, (New York: G. Braziller, 1974).
  • Martin Kubelik, “Andrea Palladio’s Vicenza, Urban Architecture and the Continuity of Change,” Cornell Journal of Architecture 4, (1990), 40-55, 206-208.

6 Perrault: Measure and History

  • Claude Perrault and Indra Kagis McEwen, Ordonnance for the Five Kinds of Columns after the Method of the Ancients, (Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1993)
  • Alberto Pérez-G?ɬ?mez, Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science, (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1983), especially “Introduction: Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science and Claude Perrault and the Instrumentalization of Proportion.” 3-48.
  • Joseph Rykwert, The First Moderns: The Architects of the Eighteenth Century, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980) , 23-53, 84-93, 139-53.


  • Dalia Judovitz, “Vision, Representation, and Technology in Descartes,” David Michael Levin, ed., Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 63-87.
  • Wolfgang Herrmann, The Theory of Claude Perrault, (London: A. Zwemmer, 1973), especially 1-69.
  • Indra Kagis McEwan, “On Claude Perrault: Modernising Vitruvius,” Paper Palaces: The Rise of the Renaissance Architectural Treatise (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 321-337.
  • Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France, 1500-1700, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 326-32.
  • Robert W. Berger, A Royal Passion : Louis XIV as Patron of Architecture, (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1994).

7 Laugier: Origins and Reason

  • Marc-Antoine Laugier, An Essay on Architecture, (Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1977).
  • “Rebuilding the Primitive Hut,” in Anthony Vidler, The Writing of the Walls: Architectural Theory in the Late Enlightenment, (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1987), 7-22.


  • Wolfgang Herrmann, Laugier and Eighteenth Century French Theory, (London: A. Zwemmer, 1985).
  • James McQuillan. “From Blondel to Blondel: On the Decline of the Vitruvian Treatise,” in Hart and Hicks, Paper Palaces, 338-357.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, ?É”?mile, (New York: Dutton, 1974).

8 Sullivan: Mass Literacy, Empire, and Excess

  • Louis H. Sullivan and Isabella Athey, Kindergarten Chats (Revised 1918) and Other Writings, The Documents of Modern Art (New York,: Wittenborn, Schultz, 1947).
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature” and “Self-Reliance,” Stephen E. Whicher, ed., Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960). 21-56 and 147-68.
  • Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893)” in History, Frontier, and Section: Three Essays (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press), 59-92.


  • Mary Woods, “The First American Architectural Journals: The Profession’s Voice,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. (June1989) v.48, no.2, 117-138.
  • T. J. Jackson Lears, Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America, ([New York]: BasicBooks, 1994).
  • Louis H. Sullivan, The Autobiography of an Idea, (New York,: Dover Publications, 1956).

9 [Spring Break]
10 Loos: Silence, Texts, and the Metropolis

  • Adolf Loos, Spoken into the Void: Collected Essays, 1897-1900, Oppositions Books (Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 1982), including introduction by Aldo Rossi.
  • Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” On Individuality and Social Forms, Selected Writings, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 324-339.
  • Victor Hugo, excerpt from “Book V. Chapter I. Abbas Beati Martini,” and “Book VI. Chapter II. This Will Kill That,” Notre-Dame de Paris (New York: Penguin Books, 1978), 186-202.


  • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, (New York: Scribner’s, 1976).

11 El Lissitzky: Propaganda

  • El Lissitzky, Russia: An Architecture for World Revolution, (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1970).
  • El Lissitzky and Patricia Railing, About Two Squares: In 6 Constructions: A Suprematist Tale, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).
  • ABC: Beitr?ɬ§ge zum Bauen, (Baden: Lars M?ɬºller, 1993).
  • Veshch’: mezhdunarodnoe obozrenie sovremennogo iskusstva = Objet: revue internationale de l’art moderne = Gegenstand: internationale Rundschau der Kunst der Gegenwart (Baden: Lars M?ɬºller, 1994).
  • T. J. Clark, “God is Not Cast Down,” Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 225-298.


  • Giorgio Agamben, The Man without Content, (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999)

12 Le Corbusier: Mass Media, Geometry, and Organization

  • Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, (New York: Payson & Clarke, 1927).
  • Le Corbusier, “In Defense of Architecture,” The Oppositions Reader (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 598-614.
  • Karel Teige, The Minimum Dwelling (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002), 1-8 and 9-31.
  • David Harvey, “Fordism” in The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 125-140.


  • Antonio Gramsci, “Taylorism and the Mechanisation of the Worker,” in “Americanism and Fordism,” Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, (New York: International Publishers, 1980), 306-307.
  • Kenneth Silver, Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914-1925. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).
  • Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style: Architecture since 1922, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1932).
  • Mary McLeod, “’Architecture or Revolution’: Taylorism, Technocracy, and Social Change,” Art Journal vol. 43, no. 2 (Summer 1983), 133-147.
  • Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1994).
  • Carol S. Eliel, ed., L’Esprit Nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925, (Los Angeles, Calif.: Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 2001).
  • Le Corbusier, The Decorative Art of Today, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987).

13 Venturi vs. Five Architects: Vision and Context

  • Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966).
  • Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1972).
  • Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, Colin Rowe and Kenneth Frampton, Five Architects, (New York: Wittenborn & Company, 1972)
  • Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, eds. Art in Theory 1900-1990. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 754-760.


  • Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, A View from the Campidoglio : Selected Essays, 1953-1984, (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).
  • Robert Venturi, Iconography and Electronics Upon a Generic Architecture: A View from the Drafting Room, (Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press, 1996).
  • Cleanth Brooks, “The Language of Paradox,” The Well-Wrought Urn. Studies in the Structure of Poetry, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1947), 3-21.
  • Kazys Varnelis, “The Education of the Innocent Eye,” Journal of Architectural Education, May 1998.
  • David Harvey, “The Political-Economic Transformation of Late Twentieth Century Capitalism” in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 141-188.

14 Gropius: Regulation

  • Walter Gropius, Scope of Total Architecture, World Perspectives, ed. Ruth Nanda Anshen (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1955, originally published 1943).
  • Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1941).
  • Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” Negotiations: 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 177-182.


  • L?ɬ°zsl?ɬ? Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, (Chicago: Paul Theobald for i.d. (Institute of Design) Books, 1947).

15 Postscript: Text in Contemporary Culture, Architectural and Otherwise

  • Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York. A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).
  • Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large, (New York: Monacelli, 1995).
  • Rem Koolhaas and Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Content, (K?ɬ?ln: Taschen, 2004).
  • Manuel Gausa and Instituto Met?ɬ°polis de Arquitectura Avanzada,The Metapolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture: City, Technology and Society in the Information Age, (Barcelona: Actar, 2003) .
  • Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.
  • Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000).
  • Ted H. Nelson, ”Complex Information Processing: A File Structure For The Complex, The Changing And The Indeterminate,” Proceedings of the 1965 20th National Conference, Association for Computing Machinery, (New York: ACM Press, 1965), 84-100.


  • Roger Chartier, “Languages, Books, and Reading from the Printed Word to the Digital Text,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 31 no. 1 (Autumn 2004): 133-152.
  • Friedrich Kittler, “Universities: Wet, Hard, Soft, and Harder,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 31 no. 1 (Autumn 2004): 244-255.
  • George P. Landow, Hypertext 2.0, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).
  • Michael Sorkin, Local Code: The Constitution of a City at 42 N Latitude, (New York, N.Y.: Princeton Architectural Press, 1993).
  • Neil M. Denari, Gyroscopic Horizons, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999).

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