Lefebvre on Culture: Sleeping Beauty image

I’m working on a much larger project about Lefebvre and the humanities and came across this quotation embedded in a discussion of Marxism and aesthetic questions:

“It so happens that the word ‘culture’ also evokes a magical image for me, that of Sleeping Beauty. She does not doze on flowers and on fragrant grass but on a thick mattress of texts, quotations, musical scores—and under a vast canopy of books, sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical theses. Then one day the Prince comes; he awakens her and everything around the forest comes to life along with her—poets poetizing, musicians musicking, cooks cooking, lovers loving, and so on. Singers? Songs? Yes, they are a part of culture, yet they must not be considered in isolation but within an ensemble that also includes dance, music, cartoon strips, television, and so forth. Moreover, culture is not merely a static palimpsest of texts, it is lived, active, which is what the fable of the wakened princess suggests to me.”

Take it for what it’s worth, but what I like about this image is how it expresses Lefebvre’s central position on culture–which of course dispenses with the ‘base-superstructure’ model that people like to equate with Marxism more generally (and which Lefebvre contradicts head-on in the Critique of Everyday Life). Not merely do a variety of cultural products form a (complex) ensemble, they also spring to life in that very moment when “Sleeping Beauty’s” “sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical” knowledge is awakened (and not a second later).

Advertisements

Cities in the Graphic Novel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I get more and more into Graphic Novels, it seems there is a great opportunity to read them from an urban cultural studies perspective. For example, I have been working with a colleague on an Argentine graphic novel called the Ethernaut (here’s a full page Eternauta FULL PAGE ej) where aliens invade the city of Buenos Aires–various landmarks in the center of the city are a prominent part of the war that ensues (our piece should be published soon in Revista Iberoamericana and references work by Fredric Jameson on science fiction as a ‘spatial genre’–see earlier post).

It seems the same topic of city representation might be relevant to discussion of the series by Jason Lutes (City of Stones, City of Smoke) that takes place in Berlin (also above in image gallery).

Looking forward to hearing if others are interested in graphic novels from an urban perspective…!

Coming Soon: Journal of Urban Cultural Studies

Coming (relatively) soon, with an international publisher:

Journal of Urban Cultural Studies

Launching with its first issue in late-2013 or 2014, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed publication devoted to research centered on urban themes and cutting across both the humanities and the social sciences. Articles (between 7,000-10,000 words including works cited) should give more or less equal weight to: a) one or more aspects of urban studies (everyday life, built environment, architecture, city planning, identity formation, transportation…) and b) one or more specific forms of cultural (textual) production (literature, film, music, art, graffiti…) in relation to a specific urban space or spaces. The journal is open to studies that deal with culture, urban spaces and forms of urbanized consciousness the world over.

Please contact the editor at urbanculturalstudies@gmail.com.

Train graffiti and the urban

Image

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”.