HIAA 1890

Semester: Spring 2011
Instructor: İpek Türeli
Time:Tuesdays, 4:00 pm  –  6:20 pm
Room: List Art Center, # 210
Office Hours: Thursdays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, # 470, or by appointment,

Miniaturization is a prevalent spatial strategy used in themed environments that range in form from historical quarters that are reconfigured as miniature museum-cities to the culturally-themed hyperreal representations that emerge in multi-user virtual environments. What are the different kinds of experience these spaces offer to visitors immersed in their exhibitions? What are the appeals of themed environments and virtual reality technologies they employ? How do workers’ experiences differ from “guests’”? Posing such questions, this seminar explores theming and virtuality both historically and globally.

Miniature theme parks abound around the world and often reveal much about their contexts. Some scholars link their origins to the sixteenth to eighteenth century European landscape gardens while others privilege the economic and cultural transformations of the post-World War II period.

The public pleasure gardens of the eighteenth century were joined during the nineteenth century with new types of commercial environments, where different social classes could come together, such as world exhibitions, open air parks and wax museums, and during the twentieth century with amusement parks and movie palaces. Today’s miniature parks go one step further from their antecedents because among other aspects they increasingly relinquish their claim to authenticity.

Theming has extended beyond the miniature park into other areas of life so much so that most of our daily life occurs in a material environment that is organized around overarching motifs and closely connected to the media world of advertising, television, film, and the world-wide web. Even historical and natural environments are renovated and manicured with themes to attract outsiders rather than serve locals or speak to local histories and sentiments—prisons are turned into prison themed hotels while museums can go to lengths to orchestrate visitors’ experience as prisoners; former incarceration sites as well as the living environments of the urban poor become the immersive reality shows of global tourists. Cities increasingly turn to theming to develop and justify urban projects and policies. On-line virtual environments like Second Life are replete with “miniature” replicas of cities and countries that compete to attract guest avatars.

Since Baudrillard’s theorization of simulacra, cultural theorists have increasingly treated theming and themed landscapes as metaphors of postmodern urbanism (i.e. Disneyfication). Despite the apparent convergence of the forms of themed landscapes around the world, there remain important differences between the processes through which they come into being, the ways in which they are experienced and are received in the specific contexts they emerge and take form. This seminar seeks to interrogate these differences through specific case studies from across the globe.


01 The Miniature & the Gigantic

Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful, 112-113, 117, 123-124, 154-156. 2nd ed, Routledge Classics. London; New York: Routledge Classics, 2008.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. The Savage Mind, 22-25. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1966.
Stewart, Susan. “The Miniature.” In On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, 37-69. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1984.
Baudrillard, Jean. “The Procession of Simulacra.” In Simulacra and Simulation, 2-42. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.


02 Pleasure Gardens & Popular Recreation

Case studies from the 18th century: Vauxhall Gardens (London), Sadabad Gardens (Istanbul)

Hamadeh, Shrine. “Public Spaces and Public Order.” In The City’s Pleasures: Istanbul in the Eighteenth Century, 110-138. Washington: University of Washington, 2007.
Harwood, Edward. “Rhetoric, Authenticity, and Reception: The Eighteenth-Century Landscape Garden, the Modern Theme Park, and Their Audiences.” In Theme Park Landscapes: Antecedents and Variations, edited by Terence Young, Robert B. Riley and Dumbarton Oaks., 49-68. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2002.
Allen, Brian. “The Landscape.” In Vauxhall Gardens, edited by T. J. Edelstein, 17-24. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Center for British Art, 1983.
Schenker, Heath. “Pleasure Gardens, Theme Parks, and the Picturesque.” In Theme Park Landscapes: Antecedents and Variations, edited by Terence Young, Robert B. Riley and Dumbarton Oaks., 69-89. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2002.

03 Exhibitionary Complex: World’s Fairs & Museums

Case studies from the 19th century: The Great Exhibition (London), Columbian Exposition (Chicago), Ottoman Imperial Museum (Istanbul)

Bennett, Tony. “The Exhibitionary Complex.” The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, 59-88. London ; New York: Routledge, 1995.
Shaw, Wendy M. K. “Parallel Collections of Weapons and Antiquities.” and “The Rise of the Imperial Museum.” In Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire, 45-107. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

04 Immersion & Voyeurism in Wax and Folk Museums

Case studies from the 19th century: Skansen (Stockholm, Sweden), Musee Grevin (Paris)

Schwartz, Vanessa R. “Cinematic Spectatorship before the Apparatus: The Public Taste for Reality in Fin-De-Siécle Paris.” In Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, edited by Leo Charney, 297-319. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Sandberg, Mark B. “Effigy and Narrative: Looking into the Nineteenth-Century Folk Museum.” In Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, edited by Leo Charney and Vanessa R. Schwartz, 320-61. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Eco, Umberto. “Travels in Hyperreality (1975).” In Travels in Hyper Reality: Essays, 1-58. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.

05 Amusement & The Cult of Distraction

Case studies form early 20th century: Coney Island, Rocky Point Park

“You must be this tall”: The Story of Rocky Point Park (2007), dir. David Bettencourt, 90 min. in-class screening to be followed by discussion on sources and methodology.

Coney Island: The American Experience (1991), dir. Ric Burns, streamed on MyCourses [to be viewed before class]
Kasson, John F. Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century, American Century Series, 11-55. New York: Hill & Wang, 1978.
Koolhaas, Rem. “Coney Island: The Technology of the Phantastic.” In Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, 29-77. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994.
Kracauer, Siegfried. “Cult of Distraction: On Berlin’s Picture Palaces.” In The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, edited by Thomas Y. Levin, 323-28. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995.


06 Theme Parks & Media Conglomerates

Case studies: Sea World, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Celebration

Davis, Susan G., “Another World: Theme Parks and Nature.” In Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience, 19-39. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Sorkin, Michael. “See you in Disneyland.” In Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, 205-232. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.
Frantz, Douglas, and Catherine Collins. “Prologue,” “The Cult of the Mouse, “Back to the Future” and “Citizen Disney.” In Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town, 5-81. 1st Owl Books ed. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2000.

07 Theme Parks & National Identity

Case studies: Splendid China (Florida and China), Taman Mini (Indonesia), Tokyo Disneyland (TDL)

The World (2004), dir. Zhang Ke Jia. Feature film on lives of workers in a theme park. Streamed on MyCourses [to be viewed before class].
Anagnost, Ann. “The Nationscape.” In National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China, 161-176. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.
Errington, Shelly. “The Cosmic Theme Park of the Javanese.” In The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress, 188-227. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Raz, Aviad E. “Receptions of TDL Disney.” In Riding the Black Ship: Japan and Tokyo Disneyland, Harvard East Asian Monographs; 173, 156-191. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1999.

08 Heritage Landscapes

Case studies: Colonial Williamsburg, “Medieval” Cairo (Egypt)

Lowenthal, David. “Identity, Heritage, and History.” In Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, edited by John R. Gillis, 41-57. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Sanders, Paula. “Keeping Cairo Medieval: World Heritage and the Debate over Fatimid Monuments.” Creating Medieval Cairo: Empire, Religion, and Architectural Preservation in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, 115-142. Cairo; New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2008.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “Destination Museum.” In Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage, 131-176. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

09 Urbanization of Theming

Case studies: Opa-locka (Florida), Las Vegas,  Kundu (Antalya)

Gottdiener, Mark. “The Mirror of Production: The Realization Problem of Capital.” The Theming of America: Dreams, Media Fantasies, and Themed Environments, 41-72. 2nd ed. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001.
Campanella, Thomas J. “Theme Parks and the Landscape of Consumption.” In The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World, 240-80. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.

10 Theming in VR Environments

Case studies: Simcity (game), Secondlife (multiuser virtual reality environment)

Westworld (1973), dir. Michael Crichton. streamed on MyCourses [to be viewed before class]
Wright, Talmadge. “Themed Environments and Virtual Spaces: Video Games, Violent Play, and Digital Enemies.” In The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self, edited by Scott A. Lukas, 247-270. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007.
Lobo, Daniel G. “Playing with Urban Life: How Simcity Influences Planning Culture.” In Space Time Play, Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: The Next Level, edited by Friedrich von Borries, Steffen P. Walz, Matthias Bottger, Drew Davidson, Heather Kelley and Julian Kücklich, 206-213. Basel ; Boston: Birkhauser, 2007.
Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, 3-31, 89-117. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.