Spring 2023

A new york city skyline with different sized buildings

photo / provided

The defenders of Western hegemony sense the encroachment and have already defined the possibility of imagining race without dominance—without hierarchy—as “barbarism.” We are already being asked to understand such a world as the destruction of the four-gated city, as the end of history. We are already being asked to know such a world as aftermath—as rubbish, as an already damaged experience, as a valueless future. 

~Toni Morrison

Urban Justice Lab: Seeing to Be in the Aftermath (AMST 6809, ARCH 6319, ART 6419, ASRC 6819, ENGL 6919, SHUM 6819)

Tuesdays 12:25–2:20 p.m.

Course Instructors: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Associate Professor of Literatures in English; and Keith Obadike, Professor in Art

This Urban Justice Lab introduces Phase III of Cornell's Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities.

Course Description:

In this course we will look at the ways that poems and songs have helped us develop theories of place. This seminar will be grounded in works by June Jordan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Finney, Sonia Sanchez, and others. Lyrics from anthems, spirituals, and funk songs will also be explored as we think through how the realm of the imagined has intersected with architectural projects (by June Jordan & Buckminster Fuller, Julian Abele, and McKissack & McKissack) and the development of communities. How are emotional connections to place limned and how do poets help us see to be habitable worlds?


Our approach will be experimental, interdisciplinary, and emergent. Bring what you're working on and let's see how our projects intersect.


The course will include introduction to digital tools as well as integration of student research with collections available at the Rare and Distinctive Collections in Cornell Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum. Students will have the resources to develop innovative methodologies (curated collections, digital tools, video essays, etc.), and will be able to work on material or a location connected to their own interests as they investigate and imagine urban possibilities.


Call for applications:


The Spring 2023 Urban Justice Lab, "Seeing to Be in the Aftermath," is an innovative seminar for graduate students in the humanities and design disciplines. Urban Justice Labs are offered under the auspices of Cornell University's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant and are organized by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society for the Humanities.

Selected students receive a $1,500 stipend to support a final project. Since final projects will be collaborative, students with diverse backgrounds and skillsets (i.e. ethnography, film and video, critical theory, digital mapping, architecture, fine art, landscape architecture, city planning, etc.) are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be in their first three years of graduate training or enrolled in a graduate professional program. Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to graduate students.

Application Process: Interested students should submit applications via the Experience Cornell website at https://experience.cornell.edu/opportunities/mellon-collaborative-studies by November 15, 2022. Application materials include a C.V. and a 500 – 700-word statement of interest describing your background interest in the seminar topic. No letters of recommendation are required.

Questions: Please contact Lauren Brown, leb69@cornell.edu, in AAP Student Services.