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University Honors Program

ARCH 301 - Honors: Appreciation of Architecture

 

Instructor: Dr. David Seamon, Seaton 202C 532-5953; triad@ksu.edu

Aims


The honors program at Kansas State University emphasizes flexibility and leaves decisions for content, format, and student responsibilities to individual instructors. The honors section of this course emphasizes reading, writing, and discussion in regard to architectural themes. The aim is to widen students’ understandings of more general topics and issues reviewed in the lecture section of the course. Specifically, students are asked to read two books and provide, for each, a written critique of 5-7 pp. The two books are:

Bob Grier & Jean-Pierre Houdin, The Secret of the Great Pyramid (New York: Harper/Smithsonian Books, 2008). A critique of this book will be due on TBA, to be handed in after class. We will arrange a time to discuss the book sometime during the following week.

Paul Goldberger, Why Architecture Matters (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009). A critique of this book will be due on TBA, to be handed in after class. We will arrange a time to discuss the book sometime during the following week.

In writing these critiques, students should briefly review the major argument of the book and then offer commentary, for example:

▪ What did you like and dislike about the book?
▪ What are the strengths and weaknesses of the book?
▪ How might the book be made better?
▪ Are there any links to be made between issues discussed in the book vs. topics covered in class lecture?
▪ Could the author(s) have presented the argument in some other, better way?

These questions are examples only. The major aim in writing the critique is for you to react to the book and to clarify for yourself  why and how the book worked for you or did not. Attached is a guide for “intensive reading” that some of you may find helpful.

We will establish times for discussion the second week of class. Please meet with me after class on Monday, TBA, so we can solidify the semester schedule.


Intensive Reading (SQ3R)


Mastery of a written text almost always requires close reading. Literary theorist Peter Barry describes a study technique that he calls “intensive reading,” or “SQ3R.”1 This approach breaks down reading an article, chapter, or book into five stages, as designated by the letters “SQRRR,” or “SQ3R.” The five stages are:


S—That is, Survey the whole chapter or article fairly rapidly, skimming through to get a rough sense of the scope and nature of the argument. Remember that information is not evenly spread throughout the text but tends to be concentrated in the opening and closing paragraphs (where you often get useful summaries of the whole). The “hinge points” of the article are often indicated in the opening and closing sentences of the paragraphs.


Q—Having skimmed the whole, set yourself some Questions to which you hope to find answers in the reading. This effort makes you an “active” rather than a passive reader, and gives purpose to your reading.

R1—Now, Read the whole piece. Use a pencil if the copy is your own to underline key points, query difficulties, circle phrases worth remembering, and so forth. Don’t just sit in front of the pages. If the book is not your own, jot down something on paper as your read, however minimal.


R2—Now, close the book and Recall what you have read. Jot down some summary points. Ask whether your starting questions have been answered, or at least clarified. Spell out some of the difficulties that remain. In this way, you record some concrete outcomes to your reading, so that your time doesn’t simply evaporate uselessly once the book is closed.


R3—This final stage is the Review. It happens after an interval has elapsed after the reading. You can experiment, but initially try doing it the following day. Without opening the book again, or referring back to your notes, review what you have gained from the reading; remind yourself of the questions you set yourself, the points you jotted down at the Recall stage, and any important phrases from the essay. If this effort produces very little, then refer back to your notes. If they makes little sense, then repeat the Survey stage and do an accelerated Read, by reading the first and last paragraphs of the essay, and skim-reading the main body assisted by your penciled markings. You may have evolved a study technique something like this already. It is really just common sense. But it will help to ensure that you gain something from a text, no matter how initially forbidding it might be.
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1. Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Barry’s discussion of intensive reading appears on pp. 4-5.