“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”—Italo Calvino
This session unearths the layered metafictions of the city: how the stories we tell about our cities restructure the cities themselves and how the city alters how we tell stories about ourselves. What is the science and the imagination of a city? What maps and narratives lie hidden but also animate the familiar atlas of everyday space? Through notions of the “unreal city,” we explore the visions, apocalyptic or aspirational, that imagine a city into being.
Dominic Pettman is Professor of Culture & Media at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. Pettman is interested in behavior and phenomena that escape the overcoding of everyday life in the age of hyper-capitalism. This includes the emergent, vestigial, anachronistic, marginal, clandestine, elliptical, stubborn, confounding, communal, improvised, untimely, unexpected, unplanned, unspoken, unrecognized, slow, quiet, seductive, opaque, attentive, unproductive, unprofitable, unalgorithmic, glitchy, and other cultural clinamens.
He is the author of numerous books on technology, humans, and other animals; including In Divisible Cities (Punctum), Infinite Distraction(Polity), Creaturely Love (Minnesota), Sonic Intimacy (Stanford), and Metagestures (with pataphysical historian Carla Nappi).
Gyan Prakash is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. He was a member of the influential Subaltern Studies Collective until its dissolution in 2006, and has been a recipient of Guggenheim and the National Endowment of Humanities fellowships. He is the author of several books, including Another Reason (1999) and the widely acclaimed Mumbai Fables (2010), which was adapted for the film Bombay Velvet (2015). As the director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center (2003-08), he led a two-year seminar series on Cities: Space, Society, and History. His latest book is Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point (2019).
The event is made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Princeton University Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, Department of Art + Archaeology, and Program in American Studies.