Culture is our making
Cass Culture is a cross-faculty enterprise. It frames the thinking in the making. Making is part of the Cass DNA and has been since the inception of its parent institutions. It lies at the absolute heart of our pedagogy. Making is where learning begins, through making decisions and choices, engaging both with the matter at hand and the constituency of makers.
In a sense, all the different forms of cultural enterprise relate back to this primal thing. We make friends, we make decisions, we make dinner, we make love, we make policies and political decisions, we make institutions and governments, we make exquisite metal objects, chairs to sit on, things that work and works of art, we make ephemeral sounds and moving images, we make spaces and buildings, pavilions, landscapes and cities to dwell in. Together they constitute our culture of making.
Ideas are cast through words and writing. So Cass Culture engages with how we make history and theory, how we construe the cultural landscapes we live in, how we give voice to our values. It is not an armchair discipline. We make ideas where we find them: in the archives and museums, out in the city and back on the streets, in the myriad places where people live their lives.
Sir Ken Robinson famously argues that our current educational system is designed to squash creative talent. Cities like London provide an antidote: they foster creativity; they brim with variety. So we use London as our library, the city as our seminar room. Indeed the inspiration for Cass Culture as a ‘culture’ is London because London is both a world city and a world within a city. We have the biggest collection of cultural resources our doorstep, from actual treasures to a diversity of people to an abundance of ecologies; from world heritage sites to circus fleas, bell foundries to opera houses, nearly three hundred museums and as many again libraries, twice as many galleries and named localities, not to mention all the extraordinary artefacts, buildings, artworks, folk, events and situations we encounter every day.
In 2012 we began building a Faculty-wide programme called CCS (Critical and Contextual Studies) to complement the design studios. The specific curriculum and teaching delivery remains firmly under the wing of the seven subject clusters but our undergraduate programme now shares a common structure in things like learning outcomes, resources, study skills, timetable, and assessment types, weblearn and online submissions through Turnitin (summarised in our Handbook Cass Writing). In September 2014 our shared framework allowed us to launch our unique invention, the ‘Dissertation Studio’, twenty-four of them, all of which were open to final year undergraduate students across the Faculty. Students could choose to work with someone from their subject area or any of the other discipline. They did both in equal quantities. See: Archive of Dissertation Studios.
Each Dissertation Studio offers a thematic topic in a seven-week course that takes them out on visits, rehearses them in how to do research, how to assemble a topic and structure a thesis. They offer a wide range of approaches from continental theory to interviews with East End makers, from histories found on London Walks to drawings tucked away in archives, from the cultural DNA of objects and images to the consequence of gender or the anthropocene.
Research across the Faculty reflects our deep commitment to social engagement. We have a PhD programme with award winning students and a research based masters course, the MA by Project. We support a spectrum of staff and student led research projects that are developed in and around the teaching studios and are fostered by our close associations with leading edge practices and institutions. Research underpins our live projects, adds value to our links with industry, and forms the basis of our partnerships. Research is part of what we do. Cass Culture is responsible for running the Faculty Research Committee and helping calibrate the synergies between research and teaching, research and practice.
We are looking at how we share what we do more broadly, particularly our pedagogical approach and our research and postgraduate forms of study. Plans are afoot to construct a different kind of offering that is inherently less monolithic and exclusive than the current degrees structure. The details have yet to be confirmed but suffice it to say the new programme will be up and running by the spring and represent another step jump in the ecology of the Cass. This programme will take its bearing from the range of work represented in the Dissertation Studios, their close cousins in the postgraduate programmes and our current research activities. But it will also instigate another level of play: working with more institutions and partners, introducing new ideas and topics, finding new people and situations to work with. Cass Culture aims to work outwards and grow its community out of its common interests.
Studio 01: Imperfect Theories
Things can lead to theories. They can point to a way of seeing artefacts or objects that is more significant than the thing itself.
Studio 02: Narrative, Storytelling and Time
This studio focus on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We particularly focus on time in narrative, and the studio undertakes a brief aesthetics of time and thinks about how art and culture has imagined time.
Studio 03: Memento
The Memento research studio employs a critical, layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the problems around memory and society.
Studio 04: Knowing Audiences
In this studio we will be thinking about audiences, how they can be understood, theorised and researched.
Studio 05: Small Encounters
Emma Davenport and Gina Pierce
Textiles present exciting material and theoretical opportunities for us to think through our practice, to make sense of the world around us in the past, present and future.
Studio 06: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
"The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy the hope of producing something worth the exercise." William Morris
Studio 08: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 09: The Form of the Text
Studio 9 encourages you to approach the dissertation as a crafted textual project. Through workshops and seminars we will consider some of the elements and activities of which the dissertation is comprised, and look at innovative and exciting ways to work with the form of the text, and the act of building it.
Studio 10: Science Fiction Futurity
The utopia of technology never quite arrived. In the 1960s, you often hear, we were promised flying cars, space settlements, robot butlers and the end of work. But then, curiously, the horizon of futurity diminished.
Studio 11: Commonism
Commonism – with an o in the middle – explores how political activism, participatory design processes, interventionism, collective action and shared authorship are transforming the world of art, architecture and design.
Studio 12: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 13: Data Stories
Dissertations produced in this studio will be informed by critical research into how data is collected and then used as raw material with which to make or mediate architecture, design and art work.
Studio 14: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture, and Liberation through Music and Performance
This interdisciplinary studio reflects the widening of music and film studies in the last thirty years to include popular music, and popular culture linking art, music, film, advertising, social issues and minority struggles for liberation.
Studio 15: London Walking
Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s.
Studio 16: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.
Course Leader for MA History, Theory and Interpretation of Architecture
Course Leader MA Architectural Histories, Theories and Interpretation, Postgraduate coordinator (RIBA part 2) History and Theory, Teaches on Architecture BA (Hons) (RIBA part 1).
Senior lecturer, History and Theory of Architecture
Coordinates Critical and Contextual Studies (BA), MA Architectural Histories, Theories and Interpretations. Professional Diploma in Architecture – RIBA2 and Architecture BA.
Emma is a senior lecturer with The Cass.
Emma teaches on Critical and Contextual Studies.
Recent news from The CassView all
Graphic novel co-authored by The Cass foundation lecturer Luke Jones and architecture tutor Anna Mill will be published by Jonathan Cape.
EXHIBITION: The Photo-Diaries of Mick Williamson
8 October - 1 November
Exhibition for Photomonth celebrating the work of leading photographer and long serving undergraduate course leader Mick Williamson.
Fielding Talk 2018
Leading designer/maker and Cass Reader in Metal Simone Ten Hompel to deliver annual Crafts Council lecture
September 6-30 2018
Cass lecturer Clare Qualmann's walking and art project takes her to New York for exhibition.
Venice Fellowship 2018
Recent Furniture and Product design graduate Ella Merriman reflects on her experience as a fellow at the Architecture Biennale this summer
The Cass Session 4 is published
Latest yearbook celebrates student work and achievements in 2017-18 academic year.
Cass Summer Shows 2018 – dates announced
Students from London Met’s Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design showcase their talent with a season of summer events.
Design for Cultural Commons
March- May 2018
Lecture series curated by Torange Khonsari coincides with launch of new postgraduate programme.
Celebration week 2017
Students, staff and studios across The Cass celebrate and share their work in progress with panels of invited critics.
I wanna be adored
Cass jewellery students Valentine’s offerings on show at Contemporary Applied Arts
The Cass Session 14-15
The first annual Cass yearbook, embodying the life, culture and achievements of the School has arrived.
The Cass Session 2014-15, a celebratory yearbook
A new yearbook celebrates the first cohort of students graduating from The Cass, newly created three years ago.
The Fabric of the City: a major new textile exhibition at The Cass
The Cass celebrates legacy of the Huguenot weavers of Spitalfields with a contemporary textile exhibition.