Friday, 27th October, 18.00-19.30, Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square

Susan Buck-Morss, in her Dreamworld and Catastrophe, observed that the end of the Cold War was marked by the passing of the dream-forms of modernity — capitalist, socialist and fascist — as sustained through the experience of the built environment. If, following Walter Benjamin, we understand awakening from the dreamworld to be premised on the conscious realisation of its utopian fantasies, then what hope remained now, she asked, in the absence of any dreamworld? This paper takes up this question through an analysis of the seemingly indifferent and post-spectacular spaces of contemporary architecture, offering, in response, an analysis that explores both its historical and its phenomenological implications.

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Douglas Spencer teaches history and theory of architecture at the Architectural Association and  University of Westminster. His recently published The Architecture of Neoliberalism reflects on how the production and experience of contemporary architecture can be understood socially and politically. He has contributed essays for numerous publications including The Journal of Architecture, Radical Philosophy, Architectural Design, e-flux, AA Files, New Geographies, and Volume, contributed chapters for collections such as Architecture and Feminisms; Landscape and Agency; This Thing Called Theory; and Architecture Against the Post-Political.