Fiction as Pedagogy: Toward a De-Anthropocentric Architectural Education

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Rafeiro, Jesse Joseph Donald




Critiquing the anthropocentric dispositions of architectural education, this dissertation introduces a "de-anthropocentric" vector of ethical thinking through fiction as a form of pedagogy. The term de-anthropocentric as opposed to non-anthropocentric here posits nonhuman life as an important dimension of architectural consideration while acknowledging that there are limitations to understanding or advocating on behalf of the nonhuman other. By problematizing anthropocentrism in this way, the research participates in concurrent discourses in philosophy, education theory, anthropology, biology and literature studies that challenge the inherited biases of Western ontology and epistemology. Recognizing the predominance of education in structuring these biases, the research takes inspiration from experimental approaches in posthuman education studies that historically situate and reorient definitions of the human and disciplinarity. Toward this, the dissertation investigates three trajectories in literature studies as departure points: the weird realism of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the multispecies worlding of Donna Haraway and the graphic portrayal of animal subjectivities in David Herman's narratology beyond the human. From these examples, the dissertation theorizes nonhuman narrative, representation and worldbuilding approaches in an architectural context. Finally, locating the early Renaissance as a period of major educational transition in architecture, the research analyzes Antonio di Pietro Averlino's Libro architettonico (1461-63) as a model of fiction-based pedagogy for the present. Written as a continuous fictional dialogue disrupted by digressions into the natural environment, animals, anecdotes, fictional buildings and social practices, the work offers a multifaceted educational model for questioning human-nonhuman relations. Between text and image, the work instructs by imagining the ideal city of Sforzinda through the narrative device of the golden book: a source of ancient literary wisdom. Following an analysis of Filarete, the dissertation presents a re-interpretation of Filarete's golden book as a pedagogical device to channel critical insight from literature and other disciplines into architectural education.






Carleton University

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