Plant(s) Matter

LARP 7800

Sonja Dümpelmann

Tuesdays, 1:45-4:45pm

Plant(s) Matter

Plants stand at the core of landscape architecture (and of our lifeworld in general). As life-sustaining organisims, plants in their myriad forms, shapes, colors, and sizes are a fundamental component of most landscapes and built environments, regardless of how much or how little these landscapes are shaped and designed by human hands. However, as history reveals, plants have been both, landscape architecture’s strength and weakness.Today’s concerns about global warming, climate justice, as well as social and environmental justice more generally show that it is high time for landscape architecture to reconsider its vegetal origins as well as plants’ manifold values and agencies. It is necessary to overcome the presumptive weaknesses that have often been associated with a preoccupation with plants, and it is imperative to understand the politics that have guided plant use for benign and malevolent purposes. Lectures, seminar discussions, field trips, and visits to rare book collections will shed light on plants’ (especially trees) uses and roles in our landscape, environmental, and design histories to enlighten the present and suggest future possibilities of designing with and for plants.The course will be accompanied by readings in history and theory: you will contribute to a course blog and work on a research paper or mixed-media project related to the course content that will be presented in class. There are no prerequisites; this course is open to all interested students at UPenn. This course fulfills Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry requirement.

Plants Matter course flyer, text above

Spring 2023