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The College of Arts Sciences

Spring 2018 Mellon Urbanism Fellowships

Mon, 10/09/2017

SHUM 6819 Urban Representation Lab - Building Feelings/Feeling Buildings: Mapping Urban Memory in an Ahistorical Age

(also AMST 6819, ARCH 6408, ENGL 6919, LSP 6819)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to fellowship recipients.  
E. Diaz
W: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.


The Spring 2018 Urban Representation Lab, “Building Feelings / Feeling Buildings: Mapping Urban Memory in an Ahistorical Age,” is an innovative seminar for graduate students in the humanities and design disciplines. Urban Representations Labs are offered under the auspices of Cornell University’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant and are organized by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society for the Humanities.

Selected students receive a $1,500 stipend to support a final project. Since final projects will be collaborative, students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets (i.e. ethnography, film and video, critical theory, digital mapping, architecture, fine art, landscape architecture, city planning, etc.) are encouraged to apply.  Applicants should be in their first three years of graduate training or enrolled in a graduate professional program.  Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to graduate students.

Materials to be submitted:  (1). C.V.   (2). A two-page statement describing your interest in and qualifications for the seminar including:: a. your state of graduate study; b. your background or interests in urban representation; c. your interest in collaborative research and your knowledge of various methods and tools we may bring to it; and d. your background with relevant experiences such as curating, architecture, etc. and your experience with digital skills such as GIS, web design, internet art, photography, video, sound recording or any other relevant information.  No letters of recommendation are required.

Applications must be submitted via by November 1, 2017.


In 2014, architect and author Marc Kushner praised the role of social media in shaping the future of our built environments.  In a TED Talk, he skipped over histories of social, economic, and political exclusions in modern American cities, including early twentieth-century redlining practices, gentrification, and urban renewal projects of the mid to late-twentieth century, to declare, “Architecture is not about math and it’s not about zoning; it’s about those visceral, emotional connections that we feel to the places that we occupy.” This course asks how built environments make us feel by connecting different vocabularies and methodologies used in academic fields (public history, ethnography, cultural studies, etc.,) and visual and performance art to map architectures of identity and unpack notions of cosmopolitanism and nationalism. The early twentieth century witnessed unprecedented migrations of racial-ethnic and working-class peoples in the U.S., many of whom moved from rural to urban environments. These migrations shaped communities that catalyzed populist arts movements in the 1960s and 1970s civil rights era that defined the look and feel of many American cities—as murals, posters, and street art are now integral to their visual and cultural landscapes. Today, urban and community art initiatives are promoted by municipal redevelopment agendas with corporate sponsorships.  There is little to no recognition of the liberationist agendas in which murals, graffiti, street art, pop-up galleries, and other art spaces materialized. We will consider the absence of local histories in the remaking of urban landscapes as global art networks and transactional spaces in the neoliberal age. Moving between U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean cities, the course explores popular arts movements in connection with relational aesthetics, social sculpture, and public art interventions from a range of artists and collectives including Anne Bray, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Judith Baca, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Regina José Galindo, INDECLINE, Ana Teresa Fernández, and others.

Course Instructor: Ella Maria Diaz, Assistant Professor of English and Latina/o Studies, Cornell University

Questions? Contact Emily Parsons,

image: Ana Teresa Fernández, Untitled, 2006. Plastic trash and oil lamp, 12”X3”. From Nan Mitan-an installation at Fondation Sant D’A Jakmel, Haiti.


Ana Teresa Fernández, Untitled, 2006.

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