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 Given our visual focus, we are interested in original, unpublished artwork on the topic of cities and in publishing articles accompanied by images where appropriate.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…

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Urban Street Art – Obey – Shepard Fairey

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Street artist turned corporate artist Shepard Fairey had a name for himself before the Obama poster with the iconic “Obey” image of Andre the Giant (above–the 80s performance artist/wrestler [which is it again?] whose face was “both sinister and goofy” as Fairey explains in the video below). There are plenty of these stuck up over town in Charleston, SC (and likely in your town?), and he’s got some more recent work as well, such as this image on Spring street in Charleston which I’m told was just outside the historic-district zoning or it would have been taken down/painted over)

Charleston architecture–and thoughts from a New Urbanist…

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If you’ve been to Charleston, South Carolina–(home to the College of Charleston)–you’ve likely heard about/seen the typical Charleston house, which has a porch alongisde the entire length of the building (on two floors). The slideshow images above were snapped on a walk I just took around the downtown area–gotta get out of the office sometimes (In one of the shots you can see that the porch has been retained for show near the front of the house while the back section has been walled in as extra interior footage). The porch is marked by a ‘false door’ or sorts, which in years gone by was left open to signal that visitors were welcome (well, that’s what they tell you on the tourist carriage tours at least).

I was thinking about what was said in a recent lecture here by a self-proclaimed New Urbanist who came to speak at the College (here’s New Urbanism in a nutshell, and a New Urbanist site)–which was [take it with a grain of salt]:

this particular New Urbanist always tells Europeans that they shouldn’t leave their tours of the United States without first visiting Charleston, that while (in general terms of course) in Europe there are magnificent public spaces (walkable areas, broad avenues, parks etc.) and impoverished private spaces (apartment-caves with little light, little room, etc.), and while the United States is lacking in rich public spaces (strip malls, car culture predominates), but has rich private spaces (well, McMansions or the North Dallas special type construction of home, built for comfort, light, etc.)–Charleston has the best of both worlds–public and private spheres.

It follows from this contextualization that the Charleston architectural style, with its porch as an open habitable space between public and private (to use this binomial characterization that has been questioned by many…) typifies this connection…

All in all, happy to call Charleston home, and we’re happy to have an upcoming talk at the College by Dr. Sonia Hirt [who was not the New Urbanist discussed above, but who has done some research on New Urbanism] on “Jane Jacobs and Urban Knowledge” (flyer below with clickable links).

Sonia Hirt lecture CofC poster

Earthquake Bolts in Charleston (and José Martí on the 1886 Earthquake)

Earthquake Bolts:

On August 31, 1886, Charleston was struck by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast. Its epicenter was in Summerville, some 25 miles northwest of the city, and shocks were felt as far away as Canada. Hundreds of buildings in and around the city were badly damaged or destroyed. Buildings that could be salvaged were repaired or rebuilt, using long iron rods for reinforcement.The iron rods were run through walls and anchored with a washer-type device, known as a gib plate, and a large iron nut. These can still be seen on many Charleston buildings and are called “earthquake bolts.” Though earthquake bolts were made in a variety of shapes, they were fairly plain. Some building owners chose to disguise them with cast iron decorations, such as lions’ heads, or stucco. The effectiveness of earthquake bolts has never been conclusively determined. They may have been a brilliant scheme which has kept many important buildings in Charleston standing since 1886, or, as one local skeptic has suggested, they may have been a brilliant scam by an enterprising earthquake bolt salesman. Scam or scheme, their effectiveness during another big quake is very much open to question. Photos linked below illustrate various types of earthquake bolts around the city. [From Charleston’s Public Library Site].

Cuban Revolutionary [the late-nineteenth-century revolution…] and canonical author José Martí wrote a piece just after the 1886 earthquake in Charleston that you can read here [if you read Spanish].

See more photos of earthquake bolts here.