I’ll be teaching a class of my own design in the Comparative History of Ideas program this spring; here’s a short description that will shortly be made into a poster to attract potential students:
To conceive of the city as anything other than the intersection of flows, trajectories, interests, or processes would be a great injustice. Everyday urban life depends on material flows of electricity, water, information, the influx of food, and the outflow of waste, while it also creates ideas, communication, camaraderie, exchange, products, and violence. Some painters, filmmakers, musicians, and photographers have used the city as inspiration, while others – graffiti writers, performance artists – use it as their canvas or stage.
As a place where all these practices collide, the city has been studied from a wide range of perspectives: sociology, architecture, geography, urban planning, economics, public policy, and philosophy. In this course we will follow many of the crooked paths of knowledge and representation that have been carved through the city by the likes of Henri Lefebvre, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Teju Cole, Michel Foucault, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philip Glass, and Timothy “Speed” Levitch, and perhaps even cut some of our own.