Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism as moderate and humanist, shedding new light on the importance of the immediate post-war for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century. The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. What emerges is a picture of local corporations, planners and city engineers as radical reshapers of the urban environment, not through the production of grand examples of architectural modernism, but in mundane attempts to zone cities, produce greener housing estates, control advertising or regulate air quality. Their ambition to control and shape the space of their cities was an attempt to produce urban environments that might be both more orderly and functional, but also held the potential to shape society.
Instead of modernity revisits the key moment in the mid-nineteenth century when, it is said, ‘all that is solid melts into air’. Spanning the visual arts, literature, and thought, it reconsiders artists and writers linked to the foundations of modern culture: Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Whitman, Whistler and Courbet. In so doing, it offers an alternative to the obsession with notions of ‘modernity’ that underpin many influential theories of culture. It incorporates the Hispanic world (Spain and Spanish America) into the story of this time, disrupting and reconfiguring the narrative of ‘modernity’, challenging the belief the Hispanic had opened the doors to the ‘modern’ but was overtaken by cultures of the north-west Atlantic. While this points beyond the divide between a supposed core and periphery in culture, the book likewise undermines the patriarchal basis of canonical modernity, giving prominence to women from the painter Rosa Bonheur, and the photographers Jane Clifford and Julia Margaret Cameron, to the actress Matilde Díez. Instead of ‘modernity’, the book conjures visions of intimate connection between places and times, between representations and realities, between selves and others. It explores commonality and similarity. In its own prose, it envisages ways of conducting and writing comparative cultural study, beyond contextualisation and historicisation, drawing on the nineteenth-century imagination. In that spirit, the book finds its way across diverse fields and subject matter, tracing connections between them, from sexuality to optical technology, from brain slices to taxidermy. In so doing, it conjures four moods: meeting, departure, sacifice and repose.
This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.
This book focuses on the ways in which German urban élites tried to mould German cities between the 'birth' of modern planning in the 1890s and the complete cessation of building caused by the economic collapse around 1930. It investigates the attributes which 'metropolis', was given by early twentieth-century Germans. The book takes Munich as its 'still point in the turning world' of German urban development in particular, but makes arguments relevant well beyond the southern capital's city limits. It presents a case study of the urban landscape of modernity and modernisation which was increasingly. The book commences with exploration of the balanced construction of 'the city' in planners' world views. It addresses contemporaries' 'action plans' as responses to the problems of modernity, and characterises these actions as themselves distinctly modern. The book also tries to restore an emphasis on contemporaries' nuanced views of modernity and modernisation, and explores the balanced construction of 'the city' in planners' world views. Discussing hospitals, old people's homes and social housing, the book discusses that space could be a highly coercive tool for the social reformer, and scholars need to address material effects. It also demonstrates how intellectual impasses in manipulating the technologies of space could have profound political consequences. The ways that the built environment is currently used as evidence in historical writing are problematic. The book treats modernity with little eye for Modernism.
The Experience of Suburban Modernity explores how the adoption of new forms of private transport transformed inter-war suburban London. It shows how London’s suburban middle classes used their newly found disposable income to enjoy driving, motorcycling and flying. The Experience of Suburban Modernity demonstrates that these new practices were welcomed by many, but met resistance to change from those who were dismayed by the accidents that resulted from increased mobility and the aesthetic and cultural changes that were the consequence of Americanization and suburban development. The book is divided into three sections. The first considers each of the private transport technologies in turn: the car, the bicycle and motorcycle, and the aeroplane and shows how they contributed to a sense of suburban modernity. The second section examines the infrastructure that supported these technologies and shows how they were interpreted in contested visions of the meaning of Englishness. The final section describes a set of journeys that demonstrate a condition of suburban modernity. These include the roadhouse, a site of Americanisation and transgression, new mobile practices of consumption, the embodied experiences of driving in a modern way, and the disastrous consequences of air and car accidents.
Rechnological necromancy and E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire
Carol Margaret Davison
of such scientific technologies as
the camera, the projector, and sound recording (Neale, 1985 : 1) – technologies largely
developed in the nineteenth century – regarded as possessing
a deadly yet death-defying occult power. The mixed characterisation
of cinema as both supernatural and scientific positions it at the
threshold of modernity, at the Enlightenment crossroads of Old and
Liquids, unlike solids, cannot easily hold their shape. Fluids, so to
speak, neither fix space nor bind time. While solids have clear spatial dimensions but neutralize impact, and thus downgrade the significance of time (effectively resist its flow or render it irrelevant),
fluids do not keep to any shape for long and are constantly ready
(and prone) to change it; and so for them it is the flow of time that
counts more than the space they happen to occupy … In a sense,
solids cancel time: for liquids, on the contrary, it is mostly time that
Griffith’s editing spatialised time, and Griffith established a tension
between the temporal linearity of the narrative and the spatial simultaneity of his parallel alternating editing. One of the interesting aspects of
Welles’s F for Fake (1973) is the circularity and overlapping of the editing
as if the film was a spatial surface upon which various temporalities were
edited together, the case with Griffith.
Welles has three roles in The Lady from Shanghai (1947) as he has in F
for Fake, Citizen Kane (1941), Mr Arkadin (1955) and The Immortal Story
‘Liquid’ modernity vs ‘reflexive’ modernity:
Bauman’s problem of agency, again
Bauman’s conception of agency has been a source of some debate,
and has often been tied in to a concern over whether he is fundamentally a pessimist or an optimist (Dawson 2012). Earlier in the
book I have had occasion to draw attention to some of the points
at which Bauman’s sociology wipes out agency, for example when
he relies on abstract reifications of social forms such as ‘modernity’
and ‘postmodernity’, or when consumers are treated as being so
driven by the urge to consume
Liquid modernity: the bare essentials
Liquid modernity, not unlike postmodernity, is a time of ‘interregnum’, Bauman says, one in which existing institutions,
because of ‘deregulation, fragmentation and privatization’, have
been denuded of larger visions and the capacity to bring about
change, resulting in a profound loss of trust in dominant institutions (Bauman and Donskis 2013: 84; Bauman and Bordoni 2014:
98; Bauman, Jacobsen and Tester 2013: 89). It is a ‘between and
betwixt’ period ‘when the old ways of having things done no longer
work properly, but new