Spatial Practices is a traveling, field-based seminar that asks questions of the meaning, economy, and politics of the built environment. This summer's inaugural seminar will be organized around the productive landscapes of the midwest, with a critical eye toward the changing natures, cultures, and infrastructures of the countryside. We will visit a range of sites that reveal the tensions within agriculture and conservation--from the last un- turned remnant prairie of Dunn Ranch to the genetic laboratories of Monsanto; from heirloom seed savers to agromanagerial institutions. The orientation of this seminar is to frame the countryside not as idyll or antidote to an urban condition, but as a constituent part in its production.
Participants will be introduced to a range of interpretive methods with an eye toward rendering the landscape--its meaning, textures, and processes--more legible. Readings from natural history, geography, art, ecology, and economics will help frame an historical understanding of the changes on the land, while cartographic and field surveys provide insight into how these changes inhere and accumulate in the landscape of the present. We will be on the road the entire duration of the seminar--discussing readings, staying in small towns, and producing field-recordings as we go. This experimental seminar is ultimately an effort in reading the landscape we inhabit and interpreting the cultural geography of our milieu.