[new book] Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre and the Humanities [April 2015]

Fraser_Toward_9781137498557_EB_Cover.inddThe cover for Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre and the Humanities, the first of many new books in Palgrave’s new HISPANIC URBAN STUDIES book series, edited by B. Fraser and S. Larson.

[click here to pre-order on Amazon]

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies is a call for a new interdisciplinary area of research and teaching. Blending Urban Studies and Cultural Studies, this book grounds readers in the extensive theory of the prolific French philosopher Henri Lefebvre. Appropriate for both beginners and specialists, the first half of this book builds from a general introduction to Lefebvre and his methodological contribution toward a focus on the concept of urban alienation and his underexplored theory of the work of art. The second half merges Lefebvrian urban thought with literary studies, film studies and popular music studies, successively, before turning to the videogame and the digital humanities.

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies [video posted online]

For anyone interested in watching it here is a link to the lecture–or rather to the exercise in organized rambling–I gave at the University of Kentucky, now on UK vimeo:

“Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre, Space and the Culture(s) of Cities”

To watch video, click above or go here: http://vimeo.com/50215247

Thanks again to the Department of Hispanic Studies there. The prezi itself can be seen in the background on the screen, but as announced before can also be viewed here. See also this previous post for more general information about the talk.

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies [prezi]

I just returned from delivering an invited lecture at the University of Kentucky, which I titled:

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre, Space and the Culture(s) of Cities.

Clicking on the above link will take you to the prezi that accompanied the talk, which includes video and audio clips, although it leaves out the first 15-20 minute set-up which was devoted to the academic spat between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis in their 1959 and 1962 lectures (see an earlier post). The talk was a form of organized rambling at a general level about Lefebvre’s insights into cities, the timeliness of urban cultural studies, interdisciplinary issues in general, David Harvey, city rhythms, and so on, so a lot is left out of the prezi alone, but it may still be interesting to watch. Given that I was pitching the talk so broadly, I was thrilled that so many non-Hispanic Studies faculty/students were able to make it.

If you haven’t seen or used prezi before (higher functionality/privacy free for educators with an .edu email address) I can say that it may blow your mind as a presentation format (I was blown away when I first saw this used at a conference last year). After watching a prezi (many are ‘public’/freely available on the site to view) it becomes clear just how much power point presentations are linked to the cultural moment in which I grew up–which revolved around linear slideshows of non-digital photography (didn’t you hate it when that one slide got stuck in the projector?).

Special thanks to U Kentucky Professors Susan Larson and Aníbal Biglieri in particular, and also to many other faculty members from both the Department of Hispanic Studies there (and its fantastic graduate students) and beyond, for making it such a great experience!

Worth a Read: F. R. Leavis (on C.P. Snow, technology and… Digital Humanities?)

I’m reading F. R. Leavis (of Scrutiny fame) at present–the book Nor Shall My Sword: Discourses on Pluralism, Compassion and Social Hope (1972, New York: Barnes & Noble[Harper & Row]) to be precise.

So many reasons you’d want read this. First: it includes the Richmond Lecture he delivered as a response to C.P. Snow’s 1959 Rede lecture that popularized the notion of ‘The Two Cultures’ and he LAMBASTES Snow, not without a certain dose of humor I would add; what Leavis considers to be Snow’s laughable career as a novelist, the fact that Snow could even think to talk about literature when he knows nothing about it, the first chapter alone had me in stitches–not that it’s written that way, but the criticisms are so direct and specific [perhaps personal] (and apt) that it is amusing to read.

But there are other reasons to read the book, which compiles several essays together and is not purely an attack on Snow. One of Snow’s statements (evidence for him of the split between two cultures) had been that Continue reading

The Two Cultures: C. P. Snow and the State of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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This is an obligatory reference for contemporary academics working across more than one discipline–there should be a kind of ‘required freshman reading’ (ours for freshmen next year is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer–which I think Chapel Hill used previously if I got the right information) in which new faculty members have to read C.P. Snow’s book The Two Cultures as part of their orientation.

Snow was a scientist/physicist who also thought of himself as a writer/novelist, and gave a lecture in 1959 that was later turned into a book. In the lecture he discussed the gap between the humanities and the hard sciences–the mutual lack of understanding in general terms. This is the kind of thing that Continue reading