module specification

AR7007 - Poetry and Architecture (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Poetry and Architecture
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 4000 word Essay (Local Submission) *FC*
Coursework 25%   Seminar Report (Local Submission)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance Requirement
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

The course examines the critical application of poetic ideas to architecture in order to construct an alternative discourse.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module explores the relations of two bodies of knowledge and kinds of thought, poetry and architecture, and aims to illuminate the one by means of the other.


After introductory lectures setting out wider theoretical frameworks, the seminar course begins with a definition of poetry and demonstration of poetic effects. It then applies the ideas and the method to thinking about architecture, using such texts as Heidegger, Ruskin, Louis Kahn and Daniel Libeskind, and various built or unbuilt examples. Themes treated may include rationality and irrationality, violence in architecture, metaphor and obscurity. The course deliberately sets out to offer alternatives to most current discourse about architecture, and to do this with critical rigour.

Learning and teaching

The course is conducted mainly through seminars and the method is to stimulate discussion by providing pairs of examples between which connections are not obvious and need to be worked out on the spot. Each week introduces a new approach to the linking or comparison of poetry and architecture.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course students should be able to:
a) Think critically with some precision about design questions;
b) Use historical and cultural materials imaginatively in pursuing such questions;
c) Construct a clear and forceful argument;
d) express him/herself more effectively in prose;
e) Apply the specific subject matter of the course to other contexts;
f) Interpret productively the cultural setting in which design occurs/takes place

Assessment strategy

Module assessment is based on a 4000 word essay on a topic agreed with the tutor and related to the subject material of the seminars together with a class report on reading or previous discussion.The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must pass Component 1 (the essay).


Key books for Seminars:

Coop Himmelblau. Texts (‘Architecture must burn”). Architectural Association
Faber Book of Modern Poetry, ed. Michael Roberts. Faber, 1982.
Harbison, Robert. Eccentric Spaces. Knopf, 1977.
Heidegger, Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. Harper and Row, 1975.
Karatani, Kojin. Architecture as Metaphor. MIT Press, 1995.
Libeskind, Daniel. ‘Between the Lines’ in Daniel Libeskind, Aacademy, 1991.
Ruskin, John. Stones of Venice, 1851.
Smithson, Alison and Peter. Ordinariness and Light, Urban Theories 1952-60. Faber, 1970.