Steen, AP, Guerrilla in the midst: the Universitas Project and a new type of institution, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand: Architecture, Institutions and Change, 07-10 July, Sydney, Australia, pp. 640-651. ISBN 9780646942988 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Official URL: http://www.sahanz.net/conferences/symposium2015.ht...
Italian semiotician Umberto Eco replied with the parodically-titled and -framed "Critical Essay". In this piece, Eco outlines a kind of non-university: a network-based model of education "by the masses" not merely "for" them. In outlining the relation of his "new university" to existing knowledge, Eco inserts a translated extract from Mao Zedong’s On Practice: "To acquire knowledge it is necessary to participate in the process which transforms reality. To get to know the taste of a pear it is necessary to transform it by eating it." These sentences help figure Eco’s argument. They indirectly capture the system of relation and the spirit of engagement he advocates. But the quotation also exercises the poetic function of language. It opens the "Critical Essay" to readings outside strict referential meaning. The message challenges the basic premises of Ambasz’s Universitas.
This paper takes Mao’s quotation as a lens through which to understand Eco’s "Critical Essay". It founds a semantic chain that opens Ambasz’s Universitas Project to cultural slippage and ideological contestation. Eco’s little "Black Book" response is presented here as non-institutional: a guerrilla incursion into so-called critical architectural discourse.
|Item Type:||Refereed Conference Paper|
|Keywords:||architectural discourse, Umberto Eco|
|Research Division:||Built Environment and Design|
|Research Field:||Architectural History and Theory|
|Objective Division:||Cultural Understanding|
|Objective Field:||Communication not elsewhere classified|
|UTAS Author:||Steen, AP (Dr Andrew Steen)|
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