Reflections on a year of Zoom University

The spring semester is drawing to a close, bringing an end to a year of remote teaching and distance learning. For me, it’s been a fascinating and often challenging experience. The sudden shift to mediated modalities prompted by the pandemic forced a reckoning with questions about the continued relevance of traditional higher education. For years … Continue reading Reflections on a year of Zoom University

Thoughts on Nomadland and the 2021 Oscars

I finally got around to watching Nomadland this weekend, just ahead of the film’s anticipated Oscars triumph. My viewing was belated for a number of reasons. For one, the fact that the film was only available to stream on Hulu, necessitating that I create a Hulu account, made it easy to avoid. Secondly, I am … Continue reading Thoughts on Nomadland and the 2021 Oscars

New Book: Urban Communication Reader vol. IV

The Urban Communication Reader vol. IV: Cities as Communicative Change Agents is now available. I am grateful to have been part of bringing this project to fruition, along with my co-editors erin mcclellan and Yongjun Shin. As with previous readers in the series, this volume brings together an international array of scholarship that illustrates the … Continue reading New Book: Urban Communication Reader vol. IV

The MediuM: The home version of McLuhan’s maelstrom

Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad of media effects now has its own board game. Designed by Paolo Granata and his students at the University of Toronto, The MediuM gamifies McLuhan’s “laws of media.” From the promotional website: The Medium is played in teams of two or more players. With each round, one player, the Messenger, takes a … Continue reading The MediuM: The home version of McLuhan’s maelstrom

Paris, Texas: Cinematic Space, Emotional Landscapes, and American Environments

Paris, Texas is a film about space. Space that you move through and space that you move beyond. The spaces between people, both inner and outer. It is a film utterly fixated upon landscapes: geographical landscapes, symbolic landscapes, and emotional landscapes. It offers one of the most evocative depictions of American environments in narrative cinema. … Continue reading Paris, Texas: Cinematic Space, Emotional Landscapes, and American Environments

The Fair City part 5: Urban Aesthetics & Spatial Justice

Richard Sennett’s perspective on the role of “disorder” in urban life was further developed in his book The Conscience of the Eye. In this work, Sennett strengthens the relationship between urban diversity and broad political perspectives, and argues for a connection between a concern for urban spaces and concerns with social justice. Building from the … Continue reading The Fair City part 5: Urban Aesthetics & Spatial Justice

The Fair City part 4: Equitable Development & Urban Justice

The following explores how notions of urban aesthetics and urban justice are implicated in contemporary concerns with gentrification and “equitable development.” The term “gentrification” was introduced by sociologist Ruth Glass in her 1964 book London: Aspects of Change. Glass coined the term from the English title “landed gentry,” denoting the land owning social class, to … Continue reading The Fair City part 4: Equitable Development & Urban Justice

The Fair City part 3: Aesthetic Order & Criminal Justice

The following considers how varying aesthetic valuations of urban order and disorder have influenced U.S. urban policy. The history I trace here focuses on one salient case: the “broken windows” perspective of urban disorder and its implementation through policing practices by the New York City Police Department. Broken windows theory began as an academic discourse … Continue reading The Fair City part 3: Aesthetic Order & Criminal Justice

The Fair City part 2: Aesthetics of Urban Order and Disorder

Urban agglomerations have taken many forms and been understood in a variety of ways, but density and difference have long been understood as definitive aspects of cities. From the earliest urban settlements and historical cities, the urban condition has been contrasted with rural settlements as sites of man-made chaos opposed to natural harmony. In his … Continue reading The Fair City part 2: Aesthetics of Urban Order and Disorder

The Fair City part 1: Aesthetics of Urban Order and Justice

In his book The Uses of Disorder, Richard Sennett valorizes the uncontrolled events and heterogeneous populations of cities as creating environmental conditions necessary for healthy personal development and the maturation of open and engaged worldviews. Published in 1970, the then 25-year-old Sennett was writing in the immediate wake of urban riots following the assassination of … Continue reading The Fair City part 1: Aesthetics of Urban Order and Justice