Geography and Literature: Galdós “La novela en el tranvía” [in Spanish]

So I’ve been trying to have students do more technologically advanced projects for the classes I teach in Spanish, sometimes related to urban themes… This last semester I taught 18th & 19th-century Spanish literature, and included a number of literary essays/stories relevant to urban studies and I had them use iwork [a layout/magazine program for MAC] to create their own digital magazines on topics related to the class readings. In the future I’d like to assign a project where they make videos too, so I figured I’d better learn exactly how easy that would be for undergraduates. This video [in Spanish] on a short story by Benito Pérez Galdós titled “La novela en el tranvía” is the result (just a first effort, probably not ‘A’ material just yet…).

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Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris (from 1955)

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Nothing like a light, humorous reading at the end of the semester when the summer still seems a distant dream (although the last day of class is April 23rd–not too shabby–and I’m heading to a conference next week the KFLC–not that many urban sessions but there seem to be more every year-check the program).

Luckily, the Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris hits the spot (available in the Situationist International Anthology and also online here). Not light humorous reading necessarily, maybe serious, humorous reading… Continue reading

Disability Art, Visibility and the City

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During May 2011 (ending May 15th) I visited the exhibition titled ‘Trazos Singulares [Singular Strokes],’ which was on display in Madrid’s Nuevos Ministerios metro station.

The exhibition comprised some sixty works produced by thirty artists with developmental disabilities [see above slideshow-my photos], and significantly, the work of artistic production was itself performed in situ between the 5th and the 8th of April. This simple decision has an understated significance given the history of the public (in)visibility of disability that has been written about so lucidly, for example, by Licia Carlson in her book The Faces of Intellectual Disability.

Also of interest is that the artists produced images of Madrid’s urban environment and transport systems (subway). An easy criticism would be that since the event was sponsored by Metro Madrid, it was a showy form of outreach/advertising, but I think that the event transcends that critique in some respects.

In my view this event raises questions of access to the city (Lefebvre’s question: who has the “right to the city”). This exhibit necessarily highlights how disability, urbanism and the interplay between the creative imagination and the built environment are all connected.

the mobile city (the still city)

Given a long tradition on urban movement from G. Simmel to J. Jacobs–and that there’s a growing body of work on the city as flow, mobility–there’s a seemingly complementary contribution to the following book by Ella Chmielewska at the U of Edinburgh titled “Stillness” that looks interesting (I remember the philosopher Henri Bergson having a lot to say about the relationship between movement and stillness), looks like a good read:

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Editorial Reviews

[repost from] BLDG blog:
“The pamphlet, which will explore a series of post-industrial sites in the city of Warsaw”a desolate area of disused freight rail tracks, commercial lots, gasometer buildings and other industrial apparatus,” as the architects describe its more explicitly narrative. “Our design process could be described as an investigation… of resilient landscapes,” they summarize.”

Train graffiti and the urban

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Steven Spalding and I wrote about train graffiti and its relationship to urban process and identity formation for a chapter in the recently published book Trains, Culture and Mobility.

The book had some phenomenal contributors in it: including Alexander Medcalf, who just won an award, congrats!

[the info. below is re-posted from T2M]:

The 2011 winner of the £250 (pounds Sterling) prize is Alexander Medcalf, a PhD student at the Institute of Railway Studies and Transport History at the University of York. His submission forms part of his research into the commercial cultures of one of Britain’s best known railway companies in the first half of the twentieth century. The thesis title is “Picturing the Railway Passenger as Customer in Britain: the Great Western Railway, 1903-1939”.