Mellon Urbanism Fellowships

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SHUM 6819 Edge Cities: Developing New Urban Images in Global Cinema & Media

(also ARCH 6408, ARCH 6509, AMST 6809, PMA 6619)
Spring 2020. 4 credits.
Sabine Haenni
W: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.


Call for Applications

The Spring 2020 Urban Representation Lab, “Edge Cities: Developing New Urban Images in Global Cinema and Media,” is an innovative seminar for graduate students in the humanities and design disciplines. Urban Representations Labs are offered under the auspices of Cornell University’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant and are organized by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society for the Humanities.

Selected students receive a $1,500 stipend to support a final project. Since final projects will be collaborative, students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets (i.e. ethnography, film and video, critical theory, digital mapping, architecture, fine art, landscape architecture, city planning, etc.) are encouraged to apply.  Applicants should be in their first three years of graduate training or enrolled in a graduate professional program.  Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to graduate students.

Materials to be submitted: (1) C.V.  (2) A two-page statement describing your interest in and qualifications for the seminar including: a. your state of graduate study; b. your background or interests in urban representation; c. your interest in collaborative research and your knowledge of various methods and tools we may bring to it; and d. your background with relevant experiences such as curating, architecture, etc. and your experience with digital skills such as GIS, web design, internet art, photography, video, sound recording or any other relevant information.  No letters of recommendation are required.

Questions should be directed to Rebecca Elliott, re255@cornell.edu.

Applications must be submitted via http://urbanismseminars.cornell.edu/apply by December 2, 2019.


Course Description

What is at stake in developing new moving images of the city, as artists, architects, planners, scholars? In this seminar, we will develop answers to this question by mapping the intersection between cities and moving images. Our discussions will be framed by two dominant images frequently linked to the city—density and sprawl—and the larger questions of power, social relations, and subjectivity they open up. Associated in the US with New York (tenements and skyscrapers) and Los Angeles (highways and suburban homes), cities literally and figuratively on the edge, density and sprawl seem to be about competing visions of urban form, culture, and modernity. We will both evoke and complicate the contrasts between these locations and between density and sprawl by drawing on a wide variety of locations across the continents (megacities, secondary cities, port cities, etc.). And we will consider how different urban experiences have given rise to particular cinematic forms and how film styles influence our understanding of urban form, culture, and design.

We will examine how iconic images are produced, challenged, displaced and defaced, how particular visual genres (documentary, film noir, sci-fi, etc) conceive of the urban, how urban resources and infrastructures relate to creativity, and what roles moving images play in times of major urban change. Questions of ethics (e.g. Who has the right to the city? Who gets to tell the story? Can and should the stories be changed?) will guide us as we watch a wide range of moving images (from mainstream, to indie, to art film) and read both foundational texts and recent interventions in cultural theory, urbanism, and cinema and media studies. Brief assignments will involve curating and mapping in conjunction with the collections and tools available at the Johnson Museum and the Library. Students will have the resources to develop innovative methodologies (curated collections, digital tools, video essays, etc.), and will able to work on material or a location connected to their own interests as they investigate and imagine urban possibilities.

Course instructor: Sabine Haenni (Associate Professor of Performing and Media Arts)