Building Britain: Architecture and Culture

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Most people will agree that a street, a certain borough, a city, and even a whole country is characterised to a huge extent by the respective buildings man has created over time. We may be able to describe styles, identify different architectural periods or different schools of building, but we can also try to read cultures by taking a closer look at how houses are built, towns are planned or which meanings a specific culture attaches to its buildings. By looking at the development of British architecture from a Cultural Studies perspective, students will get a solid overview of not only architectural, but especially the political, social and cultural history of Britain.

We will start our tour over the isles and through the centuries with the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, discover medieval castles, cathedrals, country houses, and work our way well into the 20th/21st century with the invention of semi-detached houses, the development of New Towns in the 1960s and the advent of ultra-modern buildings like the London "Gherkin". Moreover, we will also study general building phenomena like public houses, railway stations and football stadiums.

Course requirements will be discussed in the first session. A Reader will be made available by the start of the semester.