Public Art, Public Space, and the Public Realm, 2004

University of Southern California Fall 2004
School of Fine Arts
Graduate Public Art Studies Program
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
6-8:50pm, Harris 102

This course explores competing ideas of the public sphere. The class is multidisciplinary in nature, with a wide variety of subtopics, ranging from the role of the media in defining the public sphere, the role of the contemporary American built environment vis-?ɬ†-vis public art, contemporary ideas of audience and public, the use of art and architecture in contemporary cities, and the role of telecommunications in reshaping public life. The class is about the context of public art and some of the social and political issues involved, but is not a class about public art in and of itself.


University of Southern California Fall 2004
School of Fine Arts
Graduate Public Art Studies Program
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
6-8:50pm, Harris 102

This course explores competing ideas of the public sphere. The class is multidisciplinary in nature, with a wide variety of subtopics, ranging from the role of the media in defining the public sphere, the role of the contemporary American built environment vis-?ɬ†-vis public art, contemporary ideas of audience and public, the use of art and architecture in contemporary cities, and the role of telecommunications in reshaping public life. The class is about the context of public art and some of the social and political issues involved, but is not a class about public art in and of itself.

Students will be graded as follows:

30% course participation

70% term project

The term project will be a ten-fifteen page research paper written during the semester and presented in a ten minute long presentation on the last day of class.

1. Introduction

2. Toward an Understanding of the Public Sphere

  • J?ɬºrgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1989), xv-xix, 1-26; 89-140.
  • Craig J. Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere, Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992), 1-51.

3. The Public Sphere and Urban Modernism

  • Carl E. Schorske, “The Ringstrasse, Its Critics, and the Birth of Urban Modernism,” Fin-De-Si?ɬ®cle Vienna : Politics and Culture, (New York: Knopf : distributed by Random House, 1979), 24-115.
  • Raymond Williams, “Ideology” from Keywords. A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 153-157.
  • Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” in Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, eds. Art in Theory 1900-1990 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 130-135.
  • Michel Foucault, “Panopticism,” in Michel Foucault and Paul Rabinow, The Foucault Reader, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 207-213.

4. From Fordism to the Lonely Crowd

  • David Harvey, “Fordism” in The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-140. Chapter I and II.
  • David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character, Abridged and rev. ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 3-65.

5. The Spectacle and the Right to the City

  • Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, (New York: Zone Books, 1994), 11-24.
  • Ivan Chtcheglov, “Formulary for a New Urbanism,” 1-4, Guy Debord, “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography,” 5-8, Attila Kotanyi and Raoul Vaneigem: “Elementary Program of the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism.” and Guy Debord, Gil J. Wolman, “Methods of Détournement,” 8-14 in Ken Knabb, ed., Situationist International Anthology (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981).

6. The Post-Fordist Subject and the Decline of the Public Realm

  • David Harvey, “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation” in The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 171-172.
  • Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” Rosalind E. Krauss, Annette Michelson, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloch, Hal Foster, Denis Hollier and Silvia Kolbowski, October : The Second Decade, 1986-1996, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997), 443-447.

7. Non-Places

  • Marc Augé, “Prologue” and “From Places to Non-Places,” in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.
  • Rem Koolhaas, “The Generic City” in Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large, (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), 1248-1264.
  • Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), 15-28.

8. Public / Counter Public

  • Nancy Fraser. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Bruce Robbins, ed., The Phantom Public Sphere. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). 1-32.
  • Hal Foster, “The Artist as Ethnographer”, The Return of the Real, (Cambridge: the MIT Press, 1995), 170-203.
  • Grant H. Kester, “Rhetorical Questions: The Alternative Arts Sector and the Imaginary Public,” Grant H. Kester, ed., Art, Activism, and Oppositionality. Essays from Afterimage (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 103-135.

9. Monument and Counter-Monument

  • James Young, “The Counter-Monument: Memory against Itself in Germany Today,” Critical Inquiry 18 (Winter 1992): 267-296.
  • William Gass, “Monumentality-Mentality,” Oppositions 25 (Fall 1982): 126-144.
  • Guest: Aris Janigian, philosopher and novelist

10. Postmodern Demographics and the Creative City

  • Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999), selections.
  • Bert Mulder, “The Creative City or Redesigning Society,” and Justin O’Connor, “Popular Culture, Reflexivity and Urban Change in Jan Verwijnen and Panu Lehtovuori, eds, Creative Cities. Cultural Industries, Urban Development and the Information Society, (Helsinki: UIAH Publications, 1999), 60-75, 76-100.
  • Guests: Tom Marble and Pae White

11. Empty Spaces and Negotiations

  • Michel de Certeau “General Introduction” and “Making Do: Uses and Tactics” in The Practice of Everyday Life, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), xi-xxiv, 29-42.
  • Sze Tsung Leong, “Readings of the Attenuated Landscape,” Michael Bell and Sze Tsung Leong, eds., Slow Space, (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1998), 186-213.

12. Telecommunications and the Public Realm

  • Mitchell L. Moss and Anthony M. Townsend. “How Telecommunications Systems are Transforming Urban Spaces.” James O. Wheeler, Yuko Aoyama and Barney Warf, Cities in the Telecommunications Age : The Fracturing of Geographies, (New York: Routledge, 2000).
  • Gloria Goodale, “Only in L.A.: Parking Lot as Art Exhibit,” The Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 2003.
  • Guest: Jeremy Hight and Jeff Knowlton, presentation on 34 North 118 West: A GPS Controlled Interactive Narrative

13. Conclusion. Students Present Semester Work