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.

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:

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!


I’m chairing Richard Sennett’s talk on his new book ‘Together’, Edinburgh Book Festival, Monday 13 August, 8.30pm. For tickets and further information, see

For more on Sennett himself, go to:

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Resistance, Cooperation and Cities as Craft: More on Sennett’s Trilogy

So I’ve posted before on Richard Sennett’s series that begins with 2008’s The Craftsman, continues with 2011’s Together and will end, he says, with a book on the construction of cities that will follow from his earlier looks at craft and cooperation.I’m open, of course, to the criticism of his perspective I’ve heard that cities are in fact not crafts — but I want to highlight a useful metaphor he establishes in Together, pp. 208-12 in a brief section titled “Working with Resistance”:

“The third embodiment relates the artisan’s encounters with physical resistance to difficult social encounters. The artisan knows one big thing about dealing with resistance: not to fight against it, as though making war on knots in wood or heavy stone; the more effective way is to employ minimum force.” (208)

“Resistance arises, then, in physical matter itself and also in making sense of matter, the second kind of difficulty often spawned by better tools. In fighting against resistance we will become more focused on getting rid of the problem than on understanding what it is; by contrast, Continue reading

Richard Sennett GSD Lecture 2012 – The Architecture of Cooperation

Here, Richard Sennett talks at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on “The Architecture of Cooperation.” Watch all of it, but I found very interesting the point (at around minute 44) where he discusses the city as a body, springing from the introduction in New York City so many years ago of the “Spanish Marqueta”/Spanish Market which was going to be placed either at the edge of Spanish Harlem bordering the rich neighborhood at 96th street or in the middle of Spanish Harlem… You can learn more about the market here, but apparently as Sennett mentions the market was bought up recently by a ‘Cuban multinational’… A complementary passage from his 2011 book–well represented in that lecture–reads “Edges come in two sorts: boundaries and borders. A boundary is a relatively inert edge; population thins out at this sort of edge and there’s little exchange among creatures. A border is more of an active edge, as at the shoreline dividing ocean and land; this is a zone of intense biological activity, a feeding ground for animals, a nutrient zone for plants. In human ecology, the eight-lane highway isolating part of the city from each other is a boundary, whereas a mixed-use street at the edge between two communities can be more of a border” (p. 79).

Also, Sennett’s second book in the ‘homo faber’ series (after The Craftsman from 2008; listen to Sennett discussing that book on NPR with Diane Rehm here) is in print (Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation 2011) and his plan is for the last volume (in progress) to be on urban design “a book on making cities” that will follow logically from the first two (the city as a craft and a cooperative activity).