Fall 2005

Spectacle, Social Control, and the Spaces of Display


09/12/2005 - 12/17/2005
Monday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Zilkha Gallery 106

This course will interrogate a range of built spaces, elite ones like museums and vernacular ones like shopping malls and casinos, to see how they reflect and shape our changing ideas of spectacle and display. Beginning with an examination of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the 1939 World's Fair, we will analyze how buildings exercise authority and shape our behavior. We will consider how displays of culture and commerce encode the agendas of capitalism, both literal and cultural, by looking at the packaging of commodities and of the materials within museums; retail entertainment architecture like that of Las Vegas and Disney and its fusion with the museum; and memorial museums and structures, particularly the Holocaust Museum and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.. Throughout the course, we will ask how the visual culture of display reveals our changing views of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Texts for the course include: Julie K. Brown, Contesting Images: Photography and The World's Columbian Exposition (University of Arizona, 1994); Jeffrey Miekle, Twentieth Century Limited (Temple, 2001; 2nd edition); Robert W. Rydell, World of Fairs (Chicago, 1993) Jane Rendell, et al, eds, Gender Space Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (Routledge, 2000); Michael Sorkin, ed., Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space (Hill and Wang, 1992); and Thomas Hine, The Total Package (Little, Brown, 1995). Photocopied readings will be handed out as noted.

Students will be required to write one short paper; create one 30-minute presentation on a topic of the course; and write a final paper or project. Mastery of the readings is required.

This course may, by petition, count toward the social sciences concentration.

Mel McCombie (B.A. Bryn Mawr College; M.A. Stanford University; Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin) is visiting assistant professor at Trinity College. Her recent publications include "Art Appreciation at Caesar's Palace, in "Cultural Production and Consumption: Readings in Popular Culture," edited by Lee Harrington (Blackwell, 2000).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Julie Brown, CONTESTING IMAGES (University of Arizona), Paperback

Thomas Hine, THE TOTAL PACKAGE (Little, Brown), Paperback

Jeffrey Miekle, TWENTIETH CENTURY LIMITED (Temple), 2nd Edition, Paperback

Jane Rendell, GENDER SPACE ARCHITECTURE (Routledge), Paperback

Robert Rydell, WORLD OF FAIRS (University of Chicago Press), Paperback

Michael Sorkin, VARIATIONS ON A THEME PARK (Hill and Wang), Paperback


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