Lectures

Narrating cities: strategies of urban interpretation in a series of contemporary Italian short novels

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Papotti Lezione

In recent years, a new narrative genre has emerged in the contemporary Italian literary world: “urban narration”. This is a mixed genre that draws from different literary traditions: travel literature, travel guides, short novels, autobiographical accounts etc. The emergence of a few series of “urban narrations” published by different publishing houses shows a growing interest in the construction of narrative identities of cities and towns, mirroring an increasingly problematic relationship between inhabitants and the urban contexts they inhabit. Following a few examples from one of these series, “Contromano” (literally “Against the flow”), by the Rome-Bari based publishing house Laterza, the talk will touch some of the “hot” topics in the literary portraits of Italian cities and towns: the use of public spaces, the processes of globalization and their impacts in the urban landscapes, conflicts in the use of urban spaces, the sense of belonging of city inhabitants, the relation between tourists and residents, the role of tourism marketing, the formation of “city brands”, etc.

 

Davide Papotti, Università di Parma
Friday Feb 20th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Room 7M, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Urban Space and Literature Studies

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ross
While many monographs and articles have been published on the relationship between the text and a named location (e.g. specific cities such as Paris, London, Rome etc.), literary studies have produced relatively little in terms of spatial-textual theory. In general, literary critics tend to borrow from other, related fields—such as geography, architecture, philosophy or sociology—in order to analyze the spatial in literature. This part of the seminar will concern theories on space and place from both geographical and literary perspectives. Drawing on these (and other, related) theories, we will analyze literary and filmic texts, set in Tuscany, which exemplify spaces of alterity (based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class etc.) and conflict, in order to explore how urban space is configured in contemporary novels and reportage.

Silvia Ross, University College Cork
Monday Feb 23rd 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Monday Feb 23rd 2015, 2.30am-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Designed Space and Lived Space

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Giovannoni Designed Space
This section of the seminar will focus on the relationship between designed space and lived space starting from the assumption that commodities, like persons, have social lives (Appadurai 1986). Empirical evidence shows that designed space often conflicts with the way its users project their values, their cultures and more generally their lives, into space. Although there is no general theory on the relationship between designed space and lived space, there are some general readings which work as an introduction to the topic and/or as a methodological framework. The issue will be then developed through a certain number of cases at different scales which will be also used to discuss and compare different methodological approaches.

Giulio Giovannoni, Università di Firenze
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Urban Space as Art Fake

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Mecacci
What is the role of art work in the frame of diffuse aesthetics? Is it possible to conceive urban space as a great copy, a huge art fake? It is evident that aestheticization processes which have occurred in the last thirty years have changed the status of the work of art. In fact it is not accidental that the discomfort caused by these changes is reflected in a list of negative-meaning metaphors which try to identify the ways in which art has attempted to redefine its mimetic status: «de-definition of art» (Harold Rosenberg), «dematerialization of the art object» (Lucy Lippard), «aesthetics of disappearance» (Paul Virilio), «vanishing point of art» (Jean Baudrillard), «art in a gaseous state» (Yves Michaud), and «philosophical disenfranchisement of art» (Arthur Danto). Also urban space takes an active part in the relationship between the crisis of the artistic (the artwork) and the explosion of the aesthetic (diffuse aesthetics), a scenario that certifies the horizon of contemporaneity and definitively dismisses the equation aesthetic-art that marked the thought of nineteenth-century, in a more problematic way the thought of twentieth-century modernism, and in a still recognizable form, the thought of postmodernism.

Andrea Mecacci, Università di Firenze
Wednesday February 25th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Room 7M, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Hyperreality and Urban Space

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Giovannoni Hyperreality
Hyperreality is considered a typical feature of post-modernity and can be defined as the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality. The concept of hyperreality can be applied to urban space in the sense that in many instances the spaces of myth and of imagination end up producing real spaces. This often makes the distinction between authentic and fake, real and hyperreal, blurred and difficult to draw. This section of the seminar will briefly review the theoretical debate on hyperreality and try to draw a link between hyperreality and the production of urban space through a certain number of case studies. Cases will be considered critically, emphasizing aspects such as the relationship between the production of hyperreal space and social purification, hyperreality and everyday life, among others.

Giulio Giovannoni, Università di Firenze
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

The urban rescripting of space in Fascist Era Tuscan Towns

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lasansky
Over the course of the twenty-two years of PNF rule there was a symbiotic relationship between urban space and Fascist politics. Of particular interest is the way in which urban landscape was used to stage history for the purpose of establishing the parameters of modern Fascist culture. Urban renewal projects were employed to make explicit the associations between past and present rule. Medieval town halls were restored and converted for government use. Piazzas in Arezzo, Florence, and Siena became sites for redesigned civic festivals. In each case displaying the past provided the means to legitimize Mussolini’s claims on the present. (The lecture will be preceded by the presentation of Medina Lasansky’s book ‘Renaissance Perfected’ by Richard Ingersoll, and by a discussion of the book with Giacomo Pirazzoli and Francesco Collotti.)

Medina Lasansky, Cornell University
Wednesday March 11th – 2.30-5.30 pm, Nardini Bookstore, Le Murate Complex

Identity, History, and the Production of Urban Space

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Giovannoni Identity
Narratives about community, history, and identity are powerful forces which are often used to create the preconditions for the production of urban space. However, both the concept of community and that of identity are two problematic categories which can easily be misappropriated for questionable political and social goals. The urban rescripting of space in fascist era Tuscan towns studied by Prof. Lasansky is a great example of such misappropriation.
This section of the seminar will provide a theoretical framework aimed at reconsidering the concepts of community and identity through the review of some major theoretical contributions on the topic. The case of Barcelona will be then discussed, where urban design was connected in the last 150 years to the assertion of a Catalan national identity. This happened in complex ways which should prevent us from drawing overly generalized conclusions on the relationship between history, identity, and urban design.

Giulio Giovannoni, Università di Firenze
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Introduction to urban research

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Giovannoni Introduction
This section of the seminar will provide an introduction to urban research, touching on such issues as the nature of applied urban research, the levels of analysis, research design, data collection, and the reporting of research.

Giulio Giovannoni, Università di Firenze
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Museality Versus Reality

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ingersoll
During the past 30 years the number of museums in the world has increased exponentially. Last year China inaugurated 450 new museums. As many as 10,000 new museums have opened in the US since 2000. While Italy cannot keep up with that pace, almost every major city has inaugurated at least one new museum during the past decade. The increase in museums has been the privileged program for high-style architecture–coaxing Kenneth Frampton to surmise that it is a form of compensation for the ugliness of contemporary cities. While museums have cropped up everywhere and for any number of subjects (shoes, literature, and of course art) cities are being managed increasingly like museums. In this investigation I will try to locate the reality factor in regards to the rise of museality.

Richard Ingersoll, Syracuse University in Florence
Wednesday April 22nd – 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Urban Space as a Contested Space

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Giovannoni Contested
Urban space is often the terrain of encounter-clash between competing users of public spaces. Competition and conflict may depend on differences in age, social status, race, culture, sexuality, among others. Mostly the categories of ‘renewal’ and ‘decay’ are used according to the interests of particular groups. Inevitably urban design is in the benefit of certain groups and to the detriment of others. However the fight is generally masked by the rhetoric/ideology of decay and renewal. This section of the seminar will question, through a wide range of historical and contemporary examples, the very foundations of urban design.

Giulio Giovannoni, Università di Firenze
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 9.30am-0.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2
Tuesday Feb 24th 2015, 2.30-5.30pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Urban Space, Pluralism and the Law

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Chiodelli
The seminar focuses on the complex nexus between urban space and (different forms of) regulation. Looking at urban space through an institutional perspective, it is possible to ‘break up’ some dichotomies through which urban space is often interpreted. Two dichotomies in particular are taken into consideration. The first is ‘formal-informal’: the seminar will show how the threshold between formal and informal is often elastic and mobile, since a relationship between rule (formality) and violation (informality) is more complex than which is usually indicated. For instance, it concerns the fact that in many cases the law ‘even when violated’ has a certain cause-and-effect relation to the actions of the transgressor. The second is ‘public-private’: in fact, as regard to land ownership, the simplistic reduction into two models, the private model and the public model, without any further specification, proves insufficient when dealing with the issue of urban cohabitation. Actually, it is more fitting to speak of a plurality of property regimes in our cities, based not merely on different types of owners, but also on different ways of owning; each one is characterized by different kinds of rules that are enforced so as to regulate access to and behaviour within these spaces. The peculiarity of each property regime deeply affects urban life; for instance, it affects the ways in which the questions of urban toleration and pluralism are framed.

Francesco Chiodelli, Gran Sasso Science Institute
Wednesday May 27th – 2.30-5.30 pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Heterotopias of Difference

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Professor_Cenzatti_Topic Photo
Michel Foucault gave, at the end of the 1960s, a lecture in which he introduced the term ‘heterotopia’ to indicate “spaces of deviance,” “spaces that are linked to all other spaces” in ways that suspend, and contradict them. This was half a century ago. Foucault, in the notes for the lecture also points out that although all societies have heterotopias, their function changes from culture to culture and over time. This intervention proposes an expansion of the realm of heterotopias, no longer limited to deviance. But, in a society that increasingly characterized by multiculturalism, fragmented lifestyles and increasing social identities, heterotopias are perhaps less clandestine and ab-normal, but more pervasive and diverse.

Marco Cenzatti, UCBerkeley
Tuesday June 9th – 2.30-5.30 pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2

Concluding Session

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Student presentations on selected topics and group discussion.

Giulio Giovannoni, Silvia Ross
Tuesday June 16th – 2.30-5.30 pm, Aula Pietre, Palazzo di San Clemente, Via Micheli 2