History and Theory of Historic Preservation OpenCourseWare: A Free MIT Graduate Study Course on Historic Preservation Theory

Published Jan 17, 2009

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Learn about the history and theory of preserving history and the traditions and practices that shape societies, with an emphasis on the United States. 'History and Theory of Historic Preservation,' offered by MIT, examines the untold history of the preservation movement and explores the laws, public policies and cultural attitudes that shaped how we approach preservation. This graduate class is designed for students of Urban Studies and Planning who have a strong interest in history and a theoretical approach to how it is preserved.

History and Theory of Historic Preservation: Course Specifics

Degree Level Free Audio Video Downloads
Graduate Yes No No Yes

Lectures/Notes Study Materials Tests/Quizzes
Yes Yes No

History and Theory of Historic Preservation: Course Description

Historic preservation is typically considered a recent movement that focuses on old buildings, but this course will expose the complex history of historic preservation, the controversial politics that have shaped it and the techniques used to bring the past to the present. In this OpenCourseWare from MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, students will examine the debates about historical preservation, form their own views of past discussions and develop guidelines for their own approach to preserving the past. This lecture course begins with a look at the political steps that were necessary to pass the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, along with the debates and challenges that preceded it. Students will analyze essays and policies that offer possible guidelines for what makes landmarks, artifacts or buildings historic and eligible for preservation. Then, students will look at the design and planning associated with preserving with integrity, with an understanding of its implications on inequality and racism implicit in American society. MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning lecturer, Professor Max Page, teaches this course.

A reading list, selected readings, lecture notes and assignments are all available free online. If you are interested in learning more about the history, politics and controversies of historical preservation, visit the historic preservation course page.

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