Author: Julia Hell
Publisher: Duke University Press
Release Date: 2010-02-26
Images of ruins may represent the raw realities created by bombs, natural disasters, or factory closings, but the way we see and understand ruins is not raw or unmediated. Rather, looking at ruins, writing about them, and representing them are acts framed by a long tradition. This unique interdisciplinary collection traces discourses about and representations of ruins from a richly contextualized perspective. In the introduction, Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle discuss how European modernity emerged partly through a confrontation with the ruins of the premodern past. Several contributors discuss ideas about ruins developed by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Simmel, and Walter Benjamin. One contributor examines how W. G. Sebald’s novel The Rings of Saturn betrays the ruins erased or forgotten in the Hegelian philosophy of history. Another analyzes the repressed specter of being bombed out of existence that underpins post-Second World War modernist architecture, especially Le Corbusier’s plans for Paris. Still another compares the ways that formerly dominant white populations relate to urban-industrial ruins in Detroit and to colonial ruins in Namibia. Other topics include atomic ruins at a Nevada test site, the connection between the cinema and ruins, the various narratives that have accrued around the Inca ruin of Vilcashuamán, Tolstoy’s response in War and Peace to the destruction of Moscow in the fire of 1812, the Nazis’ obsession with imperial ruins, and the emergence in Mumbai of a new “kinetic city” on what some might consider the ruins of a modernist city. By focusing on the concept of ruin, this collection sheds new light on modernity and its vast ramifications and complexities. Contributors. Kerstin Barndt, Jon Beasley-Murray, Russell A. Berman, Jonathan Bolton, Svetlana Boym, Amir Eshel, Julia Hell, Daniel Herwitz, Andreas Huyssen, Rahul Mehrotra, Johannes von Moltke, Vladimir Paperny, Helen Petrovsky, Todd Presner, Helmut Puff, Alexander Regier, Eric Rentschler, Lucia Saks, Andreas Schönle, Tatiana Smoliarova, George Steinmetz, Jonathan Veitch, Gustavo Verdesio, Anthony Vidler
Author: Nick Yablon
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2010-06-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
American ruins have become increasingly prominent, whether in discussions of “urban blight” and home foreclosures, in commemorations of 9/11, or in postapocalyptic movies. In this highly original book, Nick Yablon argues that the association between American cities and ruins dates back to a much earlier period in the nation’s history. Recovering numerous scenes of urban desolation—from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons—Untimely Ruins challenges the myth that ruins were absent or insignificant objects in nineteenth-century America. The first book to document an American cult of the ruin, Untimely Ruins traces its deviations as well as derivations from European conventions. Unlike classical and Gothic ruins, which decayed gracefully over centuries and inspired philosophical meditations about the fate of civilizations, America’s ruins were often “untimely,” appearing unpredictably and disappearing before they could accrue an aura of age. As modern ruins of steel and iron, they stimulated critical reflections about contemporary cities, and the unfamiliar kinds of experience they enabled. Unearthing evocative sources everywhere from the archives of amateur photographers to the contents of time-capsules, Untimely Ruins exposes crucial debates about the economic, technological, and cultural transformations known as urban modernity. The result is a fascinating cultural history that uncovers fresh perspectives on the American city.
Author: David Weir
Publisher: Univ of Massachusetts Press
Release Date: 1997
Genre: Literary Criticism
Argues that anarchism was far more successful as a cultural influence on nineteenth-century writers and artists than as a political movement, and that as such it continues to affect modernist and postmodernist esthetics.
Author: Eli Jelly-Schapiro
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2018-05-11
When in 1492 Christopher Columbus set out for Asia but instead happened upon the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola, his error inaugurated a specifically colonial modernity. This is, Security and Terror contends, the colonial modernity within which we still live. And its enduring features are especially vivid in the current American century, a moment marked by a permanent War on Terror and pervasive capitalist dispossession. Resisting the assumption that September 11, 2001, constituted a historical rupture, Eli Jelly-Schapiro traces the political and philosophic genealogies of security and terror—from the settler-colonization of the New World to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. A history of the present crisis, Security and Terror also examines how that history has been registered and reckoned with in significant works of contemporary fiction and theory—in novels by Teju Cole, Mohsin Hamid, Junot Díaz, and Roberto Bolaño, and in the critical interventions of Jean Baudrillard, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri, and others. In this richly interdisciplinary inquiry, Jelly-Schapiro reveals how the erasure of colonial pasts enables the perpetual reproduction of colonial culture.
Since the nineteenth century, mass-production, consumerism and cycles of material replacement have accelerated; increasingly larger amounts of things are increasingly victimized rapidly and made redundant. At the same time, processes of destruction have immensely intensified, although largely overlooked when compared to the research and social significance devoted to consumption and production. The outcome is a ruin landscape of derelict factories, closed shopping malls, overgrown bunkers and redundant mining towns; a ghostly world of decaying modern debris normally omitted from academic concerns and conventional histories. The archaeology of the recent or contemporary past has grown fast during the last decade. This development has been concurrent with a broader popular, artistic and scholarly interest in modern ruins in general. Ruin Memories explores how the ruins of modernity are conceived and assigned cultural value in contemporary academic and public discourses, reassesses the cultural and historical value of modern ruins and suggests possible means for reaffirming their cultural and historic significance. Crucial for this reassessment is a concern with decay and ruination, and with the role things play in expressing the neglected, unsuccessful and ineffable. Abandonment and ruination is usually understood negatively through the tropes of loss and deprivation; things are degraded and humiliated while the information, knowledge and memory embedded in them become lost along the way. Without even ignoring its many negative and traumatizing aspects, a main question addressed in this book is whether ruination also can be seen as an act of disclosure. If ruination disturbs the routinized and ready-to-hand, to what extent can it also be seen as a recovery of memory as exposing meanings and presences that perhaps are only possible to grasp at second hand when no longer immersed in their withdrawn and useful reality? Anybody interested in the archaeology of the contemporary past will find Ruin Memories an essential guide to the very latest theoretical research in this emerging field of archaeological thought.
Author: Cathy Gere
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2010-09-15
In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began to excavate the palace of Knossos on Crete, bringing ancient Greek legends to life just as a new century dawned amid far-reaching questions about human history, art, and culture. With Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, Cathy Gere relates the fascinating story of Evans’s excavation and its long-term effects on Western culture. After the World War I left the Enlightenment dream in tatters, the lost paradise that Evans offered in the concrete labyrinth—pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic—seemed to offer a new way forward for writers, artists, and thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Giorgio de Chirico, Robert Graves, and Hilda Doolittle. Assembling a brilliant, talented, and eccentric cast at a moment of tremendous intellectual vitality and wrenching change, Cathy Gere paints an unforgettable portrait of the age of concrete and the birth of modernism.
The Ruins of Urban Modernity examines Thomas Pynchon's 2006 novel Against the Day through the critical lens of urban spatiality. Navigating the textual landscapes of New York, Venice, London, Los Angeles and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Against the Day reimagines urban modernity at the turn of the 20th century. As the complex novel collapses and rebuilds anew the spatial imaginaries underlying the popular fictions of urban modernity, Utku Mogultay explores how such creative disfiguration throws light on the contemporary urban world. Through critical spatial readings, he considers how Pynchon historicizes issues ranging from the commodification of the urban landscape to the politics of place-making. In Mogultay's reading, Against the Day is shown to offer an oblique negotiation of postmodern urban spaces, thus directing our attention to the ongoing erosion of sociospatial diversity in North American cities and elsewhere.
Author: Nicholas B. Dirks
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Release Date: 1998
Genre: Social Science
If culture is suspect, what of cultural theory? At a moment when culture's traditional caretakers -- humanism, philosophy, anthropology, and the nation-state -- are undergoing crisis and mutation, this volume charts the tensions and contradictions in the development and deployment of the concept of culture. A genuinely interdisciplinary venture, In Near Ruins brings together respected writers from the fields of history, anthropology, literary criticism, and communications. Together their essays present an intriguing picture of "culture" at the edges of humanism, of the politics of critical inquiry amid current social transformations, of the status and practice of historical knowledge in an age of theory. Skeptical of the concept of culture but fascinated with cultural forms, the authors take up diverse topics, from debates over sexuality in the contemporary United States to relations between empire, capitalism, and gender in nineteenth-century Britain; from poverty in U.S. inner cities to violence in war-torn Sri Lanka; from the operation of nostalgia on cultural practices in Japan to anthropological forms of state power in Indonesia and the writing of history in India. Linked by a common urge to think through the aesthetics and politics of particular social relations amid a variety of globalizing forces -- revolution, colonialism, nationalism, and the disciplinary institutions of the academy itself -- these writers contribute to the ongoing work of remapping the terrain of cultural analysis and reevaluating the stakes in such a daunting effort.
Saudi-born author Keija Parssinen’s stunning debut offers the intricate, emotionally resonant story of an American expatriate who discovers that her husband, a Saudi billionaire, has taken a second bride—an emotionally turbulent revelation that blinds them both to their teenaged son’s ominous first steps down the road of radicalization. Readers of The Septembers of Shiraz will be captivated by Parssinen’s story of love and betrayal, fundamentalism, family and country in the Middle East. Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead, hails Parssinen’s characters as “richly conceived, and her evocative petrol universe of wealth, privilege, and intrigue is unforgettable,” characterizing The Ruins of Us as having “powerful storytelling that is refreshing and entertaining.”
Author: Paul Stangl
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Release Date: 2018-04-17
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Berliners grappled with how to rebuild their devastated city. In East Berlin, where the historic core of the city lay, decisions made by the socialist leadership about what should be restored, reconstructed, or entirely reimagined would have a tremendous and lasting impact on the urban landscape. Risen from Ruins examines the cultural politics of the rebuilding of East Berlin from the end of World War II until the construction of the Berlin Wall, combining political analysis with spatial and architectural history to examine how the political agenda of East German elites and the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) played out in the built environment. Following the destruction of World War II, the center of Berlin could have been completely restored and preserved, or razed in favor of a sanitized, modern city. The reality fell somewhere in between, as decision makers balanced historic preservation against the opportunity to model the Socialist future and reject the example of the Nazi dictatorship through architecture and urban design. Paul Stangl's analysis expands our understanding of urban planning, historic preservation, modernism, and Socialist Realism in East Berlin, shedding light on how the contemporary shape of the city was influenced by ideology and politics.
Author: Gastón R. Gordillo
Publisher: Duke University Press
Release Date: 2014-07-28
Genre: Social Science
At the foot of the Argentine Andes, bulldozers are destroying forests and homes to create soy fields in an area already strewn with rubble from previous waves of destruction and violence. Based on ethnographic research in this region where the mountains give way to the Gran Chaco lowlands, Gastón R. Gordillo shows how geographic space is inseparable from the material, historical, and affective ruptures embodied in debris. His exploration of the significance of rubble encompasses lost cities, derelict train stations, overgrown Jesuit missions and Spanish forts, stranded steamships, mass graves, and razed forests. Examining the effects of these and other forms of debris on the people living on nearby ranches and farms, and in towns, Gordillo emphasizes that for the rural poor, the rubble left in the wake of capitalist and imperialist endeavors is not romanticized ruin but the material manifestation of the violence and dislocation that created it.