Biutiful Barcelona [10-15-minute video research article trailer]

My undergraduate students are busy making iMovie video final projects for a non-traditional literary survey class and I figured I might give it a try (theirs are much better I assure you). I’ve done this as a 10-15-minute video version of the argument I make in a recent article. Maybe it is more like a research article trailer… Anyone else out there making video articles? [It helps that youtube (at least for my account) allows video uploads of up to 15 minutes.]

The article is:

Fraser, B. “A Biutiful City: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Filmic Critique of the ‘Barcelona             model.’” Studies in Hispanic Cinemas 9.1 (2012): 19-34.

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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!

Lewis Mumford: The Culture of Cities (1938)

Lewis Mumford’s The Culture of Cities is a classic: the editors of The City Reader (3rd edition) go so far as to say that, “Lewis Mumford’s magisterial The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1938) was the first and remains the best book on the culture of cities” (2005, 10). Yes and no.

Mumford advocated ‘decentralization’ and earned a reputation for hating large cities. Jane Jacobs, for example, had a different opinion. In her Death and Life of Great American Cities, in a discussion of “orthodox modern city planning and city architectural design” she directs readers to Mumford for “a sympathetic account which mine is not” (1992, 17). On Mumford’s The Culture of Cities, specifically, Jacobs writes that it “was largely a morbid and biased catalog of ills. The great city [for Mumford and others] was Megalopolis, Tyrannopolis, Nekropolis, a monstrosity, a tyranny, a living death. It must go” (Jacobs 1992, 20-21; also 207). The notion of “culture” invoked throughout Mumford’s book–despite earning a place int he title–is somewhat simplistic and vague–amounting to a generalized sign of human prosperity… e.g. Mumford speaks of a “non-metropolitan culture,” “human culture,” “advanced cultures,” “cultural impoverishment.”

While it remains a classic–a valuable and detailed exploration of the way cities were influenced by nineteenth-century industry (which he calls the “paleotechnic” era)–it seems insufficient if we are to understand how “The Culture of Cities” changes over the course of the twentieth century (and twenty-first), particularly given the postwar shifts described by Lefebvre in his Critique of Everyday Life…

more on this anon…