Theory’s Rise and Fall: Contexts and Conditions.
Pittsburgh, PA, 28-30 March 2019
107th ACSA Annual Meeting
The rise and fall of theory in the culture of architecture since the 1960s is still primarily understood in mythic terms and is yet to be satisfactorily historicized or theorized in ways that grasp the contexts and conditions of architectural theory in this period.
One current myth of theory tells of its birth in 1966 with the twin publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction and Aldo Rossi’s Architecture of the City; of its maturation in the founding of institutes such as the IAUS and its journal Oppositions in the early 1970s; and of its death with the closing of Assemblage in 2000 and the supposed ascendency of history over theory marked by the publication of theory anthologies and the launch of Greyroom. Yet, understanding the rise and fall of theory only in such mythical terms, fails to grasp the underlying conditions for theory’s fate.
This session seeks papers that attempt to re-historicize and re-theorize theory’s rise and fall through analyses of broader cultural, economic, sociological, political, institutional and disciplinary conditions and that, in doing so, aim to challenge current mythologies surrounding architectural theory between the 1960s and the present.
Papers might, for example, address the “rise” and/or “fall” of theory by seeking to revise our understanding of how the conception, production or culture of post-1960s architectural theory related to economic cycles of boom and bust; to shifts between demand-side and supply-side economic policies; to ideological struggles between Communism and Capitalism; to the last decades of the cold war and its end; to cultural developments in consumerism, media, popular culture and youth culture; to struggles for civil rights, the women’s movement, and national liberation; to the post-war expansion of the university; to the growth of architecture as a university discipline and the professionalization of intellectual work in architecture schools through the burgeoning of PhD and MA programs; to the influence upon Anglo-American Universities of continental philosophy from Germany and France; to the shifting position of intellectuals in public life or of the humanities within the university; to the domestication of theory through the widespread establishment of “intro theory” classes in architecture curricula from the 1990s; to the transformation of the figure of the “neo-avant-garde” critical architect into the globalized “star architect”; to shifting conditions of production in writing and practice brought about by personal computing and the internet.
Above all, the session welcomes schematic papers that seek to re-historicize and re-theorize, in broad brushstrokes, the arcing narrative of the recent “rise and fall” of theory, with the ambition of challenging current mythologies of theory through deeper analysis of its conditions. The ultimate ambition of this session is to stimulate work that aims to better comprehend the fate and future of architectural theory.
Paper Submission Deadline: 26 September 2018