Experimental History Course

A scene from the film "La Commune" by Peter Watkins [copyright Peter Watkins]
A scene from the film “La Commune” by Peter Watkins [copyright Peter Watkins]
A seminar offered at CCA and taught by MAAD HTX faculty David Gissen

In this seminar we explore and develop emerging methods of “experimental historical practice” in the disciplines of architecture, the fine arts and design. While all forms of historical inquiry involve some form of experimentation, this course explores methods, techniques, and media that force the history of spaces and events to appear in highly unconventional forms. “Experimental” histories typically confront our expectations of how history appears as an experience and form. Often, it enables neglected aspects of a city’s history (eg. of particular people, things, or events) to take on a more visible and central role in urban life.  Recent experimental historical projects include the historical reenactments of urban revolt by Jeremy Deller or Peter Watkins, the reconstructions of odor by Jorge Otero Pailos and Christophe Laudamiel, the “counter-factual” histories of the Crimson Historians, or the provocative acts of historical maintenance by Philippe Rahm, among numerous others. We will read from a wide selection of practitioners and philosophers of history, view films, go on unusual tours, and develop our own experimental history projects in this course.