Spring 2024

The Garden: Nature and Religion in the Mediterranean

Listed in: Architectural Studies, as ARCH-224  |  Religion, as RELI-224


Matthew Westermayer (Section 01)


Offered as ARCH-224 and RELI-224.The garden is an enclosure that separates civilization from wilderness. It is a tangible place that has given rise to abstract and dynamic ideals in Western culture and religion. This course investigates the history of the garden, or rather the environmental setting of the ancient world’s famous moments of enlightenment and self-fashioning. We will study how ancient cultures fashioned nature—how they arrayed flowers, plants, trees, water—and how, through this manipulation of the world, they also fashioned themselves, and the “other.” For example, the Greeks made their gardens “simple,” in polemical contrast with their Persian neighbors, who preferred exotic plants and ample shade. We will study how cultures not only constructed their spaces, but the kinds of people they believed would emerge from such spaces. Gardens can teach us how people think about gender, identity, the value and meaning of vegetal and animal life, resource management, and even storytelling. We will study literature, art, and archaeology. We will spend ample time outside of the classroom, taking advantage of Amherst’s outdoor offerings, including a field trip to a garden.

Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Westermayer.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: There will be an emphasis on written work, in-class writing, readings, independent research, oral presentations, group work. This course will include field trips.

ARCH 224 - LEC

Section 01
M 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM JOCH 202
W 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM JOCH 202