Meeting Time/Place: Mondays and Wednesdays 9-11:40am in Flagg 404

Course Description

What is place? Is it a location? An idea? A memory? Who decides where a place starts and stops?

This course will explore various ways to consider these questions (as well as others) without purporting to offer proven answers. While contemporary visual art serves as our primary field of inquiry, we will approach the problems of place through multiple disciplines and forms including architecture, sociology, geography, tourism, literature, and cinema.

The structure of this course is based on a combination of the seminar model (meaning there are select readings on a theme/topic that provide the foundation for group discussion and debate) + a studio workshop (where we will practice exercises in responding to problems through making and evaluating). Both components are crucial to the experience of the course. We will be rigorously thinking about the making of "art" through experiential forms that consider "place" as a discourse, not unlike how one might practice painting in dialogue with the historical/formal concerns of painting.

Importantly, we will be "practicing" throughout the semester, developing ideas and fluency through iteration and experience. For this class to work, everyone must be willing to work thoughtfully, keeping the larger process and conceptual trajectory in sight.

Objectives and Goals

This course aims to introduce students to several common (and some not-so-common) understandings of place as a subject for artistic production.
This will be achieved through regular critical and creative assignments. Written assignments will be completed in response to the regular readings and presentations in which students will be expected to synthesize the arguments and information presented. These writings will be carried out mostly on an online discussion forum. Students will be required to lead discussions each week in pairs.
Creative assignments will be art-based exercises involving "projects" created individually and collaboratively in response to specifically posed problems. There will be very few restrictions or requirements related to form, media and technique. This is not a course in using a particular medium. It is expected that students will bring existing proficiencies and skills, while expanding the application of skills in new directions relevant to the course topic.

Required Texts

Readings will be supplied in the form of downloadable PDF files that correspond to a schedule.


You will need basic supplies - notebook, things to write with. You will probably also need some kind of portable, digital media storage (a USB flash drive, for example).
We will be making use of various digital technologies, including video and audio. You have paid a facility fee that gives you access to such equipment from the check-out window and access to Art & Design computer labs.

Grading Policy

Regular attendance is a necessity, as is classroom participation. Both will have a crucial bearing on your final grade.

Excessive absences [3 or more] can lower a grade by one full letter or more.
After 3 absences, only those resulting from extreme illness or otherwise documentable circumstances (such as a family emergency or emergency hospital/doctor visit) will be "excused". All other absences will be counted.
Two late arrivals to class will constitute an absence.

Writing assignments will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, and will also be a deciding factor in each student's final grade.
If you show up without required work, you will be considered absent. Projects not delivered on time will receive one letter grade deduction for every weekday not delivered.

Grading will be determined as follows:
In class participation/reading responses: 50%
Exercises: 50%


Reading Discussions
Each student is responsible for reading the entirety of every assigned reading and posting responses on the course discussion forum. Responses should typically be 1-2 paragraphs (150-300 words) and directly address the content of the readings. Sometimes a specific question will be posted by the professor for consideration.
Throughout the semester, each student will also be required to lead the discussion of a set of readings. Discussion leaders will work in teams of two and are expected to:
a) Initiate the class discussion with a broad summary of the readings and a few prepared questions
b) Provide a structure/format for the discussion. Structure/format can include: debate; workshop/exercise; game.


Be aware of the University's Policy on Academic Integrity + attendance + nondiscrimination as they apply to this class.
Students are expected to respect all students in the class, as well as any other individuals that we encounter in course activities. Any consciously and continued disrespectful conduct will not be tolerated and will result in removal from the course. This includes egregiously disruptive behavior as well as any insulting actions or comments.


The University of Illinois is committed to combating sexual misconduct. As such, you should know that faculty and staff members are required to report any instances of sexual misconduct—which also includes dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking—to the University’s Title IX and Disability Office. What this means is that as your instructor, I am required to report any incidents of sexual misconduct that are directly reported to me, or of which I am somehow made aware. When a report is received, an individual with the Title IX and Disability Office reaches out to provide information about rights and options, including accommodations, support services, the campus disciplinary process, and law enforcement options.
There is an exception to this reporting requirement about which you should be aware. A list of the designated University employees who, as counselors, confidential advisors, and medical professionals, do not have this reporting responsibility and can maintain confidentiality, can be found here:
Other information about resources and reporting is available here: