Ginger Nolan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

BA in Comparative Literature, Brandeis University; M.Arch, MIT; PhD, Architectural History & Theory, Columbia University

Ginger Nolan is a historian and theorist of architecture and urbanism. Her scholarship examines intersections between nootechnologies, design aesthetics, and constructions of race. Before joining the University of Southern California, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Basel University’s department of Urban Studies. She has also taught at Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts, and she was a teaching fellow at Columbia University’s Institute of Comparative Literature and Society. Her research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, the Terra Foundation of American Art, and the Graham Foundation of Art and Architecture. She pursues collective forms of scholarship through her involvement with the Global Architecture History Theory Collaborative and with Aggregate’s Systems and the South group. Nolan is the author of The Neo-colonialism of the Global Village (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), which examines the influence of colonial technopolitics on Marshall McLuhan’s conception of “the global village”. She has a second book forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press provisionally titled “Savage Mind / Savage Machine: Design, Technology and the Making of Magical Thought”. Her articles and essays have appeared in Grey Room, Architectural Theory Review, The Journal of Architecture, Perspecta, Log, Volume, Thresholds, Avery Review, and e-flux.

Currently Teaching
  • 314
    History of Architecture Contemporary Issues
    History of Architecture Contemporary Issues
    Prerequisite(s): ARCH 214b The readings and assignments are designed to encourage critical thinking and analytical skills, in addition to an understanding of the criticisms leveled against the modern movement during the 1960s.
  • 414
    Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture-Housing, Infrastructure, Citizenship
    Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture-Housing, Infrastructure, Citizenship

    Prerequisite(s): ARCH 214a, ARCH 214b or ARCH 304 How do architectures and infrastructures both support and limit capacities for political community and economic-political enfranchisement? Modern housing has been understood, on the one hand, as providing the basic foundations of citizenship and cultural integration and, on the other hand, as an instrument of biopolitical management, segregation, and financial exploitation. How does a house function as an instrument of citizenship (and non-citizenship): firstly by mediating between the private sphere and the state, and secondly by its production of interdependencies (i.e., through the house's interpolation within infrastructures of education, communication, transportation, health care, and physical services)?

    Special attention will be given to how the design of housing has worked co-operatively with economic redevelopment in urban and rural areas to produce a range of political effects. This course has a global scope but with a special emphasis on U.S. histories of slavery, settler colonialism, industrial labor, immigration, and civil rights. The course will be grounded in philosophical texts that theorize citizenship and non-citizenship.

  • 414
    Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture - The Environment: Representing and Knowing the Global Sphere
    Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture - The Environment: Representing and Knowing the Global Sphere

    Going beyond the scope of sustainable design, this course examines how new aesthetic and spatial practices helped conjure into existence the thing that we now call “the environment”. Students will examine how aesthetics, architectures, and modes of ordering the world’s plenitude helped enable the environment to become a dominant paradigm for comprehending economic, human, and non-human interactions during the latter half of the twentieth century. Given that the environment can be neither strictly delimited nor perceived in its full complexity and scope, it had to be construed through new visual modes and technologies of representation and through new terms and concepts.

    Proposing that by the 1960s the environment had subsumed antecedent world-models, this course turns backward to colonial conceptions of nature, cartography, race, and natural history and proceeds into the twentieth century to see how these concepts were absorbed within and transformed by the construct of the environment. We will see the emergence of two twentieth-century environmental paradigms: on the one hand, the management of large-scale world-systems; on the other hand “environmental design” at the scale of buildings, rooms, and media that sought to instate cognitive-behavioral changes in occupants. We will examine how modes of representation are crucial to issues of environmental justice.

  • 563
    Contemporary Architectural Theory
    Contemporary Architectural Theory
    Theory can be used as justification, as propaganda, as a guide for practice, as a set of principles, as a vehicle of thought, as a platform for debate, and as an architectural project in itself. This course considers the changing role of theory with respect to architectural, urban, and landscape practice over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and aims to furnish students with a set of questions, techniques, and tools for criticism and self-critique. Focusing on key figures, movements, and texts, this course provides an overview of the principal theories that have informed, animated, or destabilized recent architectural, urban, and landscape discourse.
Related News
Faculty Members Awarded Grants by Graham Foundation
Professors Alison Hirsch and Ginger Nolan were awarded grants by the Graham Foundation for 2019. The foundation, which aims to “foster the ...
Faculty Spotlight: Ginger Nolan
Ginger Nolan will join the School of Architecture faculty this fall as an Assistant Professor teaching architectural theory. Professor Nolan joins ...
USC Architecture Adds Two New Faculty
USC Architecture has hired two new faculty members that will start in the fall semester. Faiza Moatasim will be joining the USC School of ...
USC Architecture Faculty Granted Graham Foundation Awards
The Graham Foundation has announced its grantee projects for 2019, in which it awarded $462,800 to 64 projects by individuals. Two USC School of ...
Related People