Public Lecture Details

Date: Thursday, March 16
Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Location: Duquesne Union 613
Title: "Portraying Human Experience Visually and Aesthetically: André Kertész as a Photographer of the Lifeworld"
Presenter: Dr. David Seamon, professor of Architecture at Kansas State University
Abstract: In this presentation, I draw on the images of the eminent 20th-century photographer André Kertész (1894-1985) to consider the aesthetic encounter with photographs. I argue that Kertész's images work implicitly to illustrate visually the concepts of perception and body-subject delineated by phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I contend that, through facilitating in the viewer a momentary puzzlement in what an image seems to be, some Kertész photographs illuminate Merleau-Ponty's perception-the immediate, normally unnoticed givenness of the world founded in pre-conscious, bodily sensibility. In presenting people's bodily regularities and intercorporeal co-presence grounded in specific places and environmental settings, other Kertész photographs illustrate visually Merleau-Ponty's body schema, or body-subject-pre-reflective corporeal awareness manifested through action and typically in sync with the physical world at hand. I suggest that photographs and other visual media may be one useful vehicle for explaining phenomenological concepts and principles often difficult to understand, especially for beginners in phenomenology.

Click here for a video of Dr. Seamon's lecture.

Seminar Details

Date: Friday, March 17
Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: College Hall 207
Title: "Understanding Place Holistically: Cities as Synergistic Relationality"
Abstract: In this seminar presentation, I describe two contrasting conceptual understandings of place. The approach ofanalytic relationality interprets places as sets of interconnected, self-contained parts and their relationships. In contrast, synergistic relationality interprets places as integrated, generative fields, the parts of which are only parts as they both sustain and are sustained by the constitution and dynamism of the particular place as a whole. I offer one interpretation of place as synergistic relationality by highlighting six intertwined, generative place processes: interaction, identity, release, realization, creation, and intensification. I argue that, in relation to urban studies and urban design, a synergistic perspective might contribute to a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of urban places and more effective city place making.

Click here for a video of Dr. Seamon's seminar presentation.

About the Speaker

David Seamon is a Professor of Environment-Behavior and Place Studies in the Department of Architecture at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He teaches courses in environmental aesthetics, architectural appreciation, and behavioral dimensions of environmental and architectural design. Trained as a geographer and environment-behavior researcher, Seamon is interested in a phenomenological approach to place, architecture, environmental experience, and environmental design. His books include: A Geography of the Lifeworld (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979); Dwelling, Place and Environment: Toward a Phenomenology of Person and World (edited with philosopher Robert Mugerauer, Columbia University Press, 1989); Dwelling, Seeing, and Designing: Toward a Phenomenological Ecology (SUNY Press, 1993); and Goethe's Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature (edited with physicist Arthur Zajonc, SUNY Press, 1998). He is on the editorial boards of several academics journals, and is the editor of Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology, published since 1990.