The Cinema of Urban Crisis [new book]

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The Cinema of Urban Crisis

Seventies Film and the Reinvention of the City

By Lawrence Webb (University of Sussex)

In the 1970s, cities across the United States and Western Europe faced a deep social and political crisis that challenged established principles of planning, economics and urban theory. At the same time, film industries experienced a parallel process of transition, the effects of which rippled through the aesthetic and narrative form of the decade’s cinema. The Cinema of Urban Crisis traces a new path through the cinematic legacy of the 1970s by drawing together these intertwined histories of urban and cultural change. Bringing issues of space and place to the fore, the book unpacks the geographical and spatial dynamics of film movements from the New Hollywood to the New German Cinema, showing how the crisis of the seventies and the emerging ‘postindustrial’ economy brought film and the city together in new configurations.

Chapters cover a range of cities on both sides of the Atlantic, from New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco to London, Paris and Berlin. Integrating analysis of film industries and production practices with detailed considerations of individual texts, the book offers strikingly original close analyses of a wide range of films, from New Hollywood (The Conversation, The King of Marvin Gardens, Rocky) to European art cinema (Alice in the Cities, The Passenger, Tout va Bien) and popular international genres such as the political thriller and the crime film. Focusing on the aesthetic and representational strategies of these films, the book argues that the decade’s cinema engaged with – and helped to shape – the passage from the ‘urban crisis’ of the late sixties to the neoliberal ‘urban renaissance’ of the early eighties. Splicing ideas from film studies with urban geography and architectural history, the book offers a fresh perspective on a rich period of film history and opens up new directions for critical engagement between film and urban studies.

Read more at Amsterdam University Press here.
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Make_Shift: The Expanded Field of Critical Spatial Practice

For those of you in Berlin on October 6, 2012:
“Make_Shift: The expanded field of critical spatial practice
International conference
TU Berlin, Institute for Architecture, Straße des 17. Juni 152, A151
October 6, 2012, 11 am – 7 pm
“Makeshift” is a term usually associated with a politically expedient or resourceful solution – temporary or permanent – for something missing. Here the term is also split to emphasize the two components that are key to our central theme of self-generated, informal planning agendas: namely the DIY aspects of making, and the paradigm shifts that can result from this. “Makeshift” also presupposes a condition of scarcity; of shrinking resources. Situated within the expanded field in question are appropriations and transformations of urban space that encompass planning, civic engagement, artistic practice and activism. In short, a re-imagination of the city space and its potentialities….”

CFP–new Journal of Urban Cultural Studies launched

Visit the new Journal of Urban Cultural Studies site here.

Call for Papers

The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is a new peer-reviewed publication cutting across both the humanities and the social sciences in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities. The journal is open to studies that deal with culture, urban spaces and forms of urbanized consciousness the world over.

Although we embrace a broad definition of urban cultural studies, we are particularly interested in submissions that give equal weight to: a) one or more aspects of urban studies (everyday life, built environment, architecture, city planning, identity formation, transportation…) and b) analysis of one or more specific forms of cultural/textual production (literature, film, graphic novels, music, art, graffiti, videogames, online or virtual space…) in relation to a given urban space or spaces.

Essays of 7,000-10,000 words (including works cited and notes) should be sent by attachment to the Editor at urbanculturalstudies@gmail.com. JUCS is also open to proposals of special issues by guest editors working individually or in teams of two. All citations in other languages should be translated into English for the journal’s international reading public, in addition to including the original text.

While the journal does not publish book reviews, we do publish review essays—which should discuss 3-5 recent books on a shared topic or theme (or place) and run from 2,500 to 4,000 words. Review essays of urban-themed installations or other works of art are also welcome. These essays will be reviewed in house. Given our visual focus, we are interested in original, unpublished artwork on the topic of cities and in publishing articles accompanied by images where appropriate.

We encourage a variety of approaches to the urban phenomenon—the strengths of the editorial board run from urban geography to literature and film, photography and videogames, gender and sexuality, creative economy, popular music, Marxist approaches, fashion, urban planning, anthropology, sociology, Deaf culture, built environment, philosophy, architecture, detective fiction and noir, and more…

Cities in the Graphic Novel

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As I get more and more into Graphic Novels, it seems there is a great opportunity to read them from an urban cultural studies perspective. For example, I have been working with a colleague on an Argentine graphic novel called the Ethernaut (here’s a full page Eternauta FULL PAGE ej) where aliens invade the city of Buenos Aires–various landmarks in the center of the city are a prominent part of the war that ensues (our piece should be published soon in Revista Iberoamericana and references work by Fredric Jameson on science fiction as a ‘spatial genre’–see earlier post).

It seems the same topic of city representation might be relevant to discussion of the series by Jason Lutes (City of Stones, City of Smoke) that takes place in Berlin (also above in image gallery).

Looking forward to hearing if others are interested in graphic novels from an urban perspective…!