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.
How does literary production respond to processes of urbanization? What do literary and cultural representations tell us about urban practices?
Guided by these questions, Urban Space and Late Twentieth-Century New York Literature theorizes literary geography anew by examining writers’ responses to the uneven development of New York City. Catalina Neculai offers a rich critique of literature written during the consolidation of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Whether it is about the culture industries, gentrification, housing movements, or the finance economy, here New York literature becomes akin to urban fieldwork that produces knowledge of space and engages with the politics of place. Interdisciplinary in conception and design, the book draws on fiction, non-fiction, grassroots narratives, archival material, radical Marxist geography, urban politics, and urban history.
My new book Antonio López García’s Everyday Urban Worlds: A Philosophy of Painting is entering production with Bucknell University Press – it should be available in August 2014 (appearing on amazon at present for pre-order).
It represents rather a new form of writing for me – inspired by the meandering and philosophical style of Spanish author / civil engineer Juan Benet’s El ángel del señor abandona a Tobías (1976) where he mixes a range of disciplinary questions together, using the famed painting of the same name by Rembrandt as a point of departure.
Here I’ve devoted a chapter each to specific paintings (Gran Vía, Madrid desde Torres Blancas, and Madrid desde la torre de bomberos de Vallecas…), which I use as points of departure to fold Spanish literature, film and urban planning together with larger interdisciplinary and philosophical, geographical questions.
If you CLICK HERE you can see a ‘prezi’ that I’ve used with a lecture focusing on an excerpt of the second chapter’s Madrid desde Torres Blancas (visuals only).
UCS 007 Jefferson on Walcott’s Poetics of Caribbean Colonial Modernity (Castries / Port of Spain) (15 September 2013)
Conversational interview inspired by scholar Ben Jefferson’s article “New Jerusalems: Derek Walcott’s poetics of the Caribbean city,” published in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.2, 2014). Topics range from readings/analyses of specific excerpts of poems written by celebrated poet Walcott (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1992) to the ideas of Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Henri Lefebvre, V. S. Naipaul, North American and European city planning traditions and the relationship between rural and urban space specific to Caribbean modernity. [LINK TO ORIGINAL PUBLISHER]
UCS 005 Kooistra on Prostitution in Hollywood/Los Angeles: Films, Novels and the Courts Kooistra (13 August 2013) Conversational interview inspired by scholar AnneMarie Kooistra’s article “The Harlot City?: Prostitution in Hollywood, 1920-1940,” forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.1, 2013). Drawing on the titular nickname introduced by Carey McWilliams in 1927, topics range from specific films, novels and the famed ‘Love-Mart’ case of alleged ‘Hollywood madam’ Olive Clark Day to the theories of geographers Mike Davis/Edward Soja and historian Sharon Ullman–in exploration of the city’s modern urban sexual economy.