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The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture

Kenneth Frampton's long-awaited follow-up to his classic A Critical History of Modern Architecture is certain to influence any future debate on the evolution of modern architecture.

Studies in Tectonic Culture is nothing less than a rethinking of the entire modern architectural tradition. The notion of tectonics as employed by Frampton—the focus on architecture as a constructional craft—constitutes a direct challenge to current mainstream thinking on the artistic limits of postmodernism, and suggests a convincing alternative. Indeed, Frampton argues, modern architecture is invariably as much about structure and construction as it is about space and abstract form.

Composed of ten essays and an epilogue that trace the history of contemporary form as an evolving poetic of structure and construction, the book's analytical framework rests on Frampton's close readings of key French and German, and English sources from the eighteenth century to the present. He clarifies the various turns that structural engineering and tectonic imagination have taken in the work of such architects as Perret, Wright, Kahn, Scarpa, and Mies, and shows how both constructional form and material character were integral to an evolving architectural expression of their work. Frampton also demonstrates that the way in which these elements are articulated from one work to the next provides a basis upon which to evaluate the works as a whole. This is especially evident in his consideration of the work of Perret, Mies, and Kahn and the continuities in their thought and attitudes that linked them to the past.

Frampton considers the conscious cultivation of the tectonic tradition in architecture as an essential element in the future development of architectural form, casting a critical new light on the entire issue of modernity and on the place of much work that has passed as "avant-garde."

Studies in Tectonic Culture is a copublication of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies and The MIT Press.

Media and Politics in Virtual America

"In the pages that follow, we trace the emergence of a place that looks like a real democracy, and a real country, but is in fact a construct, like reality but not real. It is Virtual America."

The new technologies of the 1990s, Ed Diamond and Robert Silverman argue, have helped create a blowhard culture, a talk-show politics driven by instant news analysis, over-reliance on public-opinion polls and focus groups, the power of Know-Nothing call-in shows, and the unchecked gossip of online computer networks.

White House to Your House is a fast-paced account of contemporary media coverage of national politics during a time when the top two books on the best-seller list were by Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Included are lively analyses of what's behind the image makers' takeover of the old Washington policy-making machinery, how Bill Clinton prevailed in 1992 only to lose both his good press and his job approval ratings less than two years later, what the rise of right-wing populism from Ross Perot to Newt Gingrich signifies, how the press struggled to identify Hilary Rodham Clinton, why health care reform was defeated on the front pages of America's newspapers without coming to a vote in the Congress, who makes up the audiences for talk radio and why they're angry, and the effects of proliferating television channels on political coverage.

A new epilogue carries the narrative through the 1996 presidential campaign, and the development of on-line Web sites by the candidates, special-interest groups, and news media. The epilogue also assesses the future of both Internet politics and digital journalism.

Urban Landscapes as Public History


Based on her extensive experience in the urban communities of Los Angeles, historian and architect Dolores Hayden proposes new perspectives on gender, race, and ethnicity to broaden the practice of public history and public art, enlarge urban preservation, and reorient the writing of urban history to spatial struggles.

In the first part of The Power of Place, Hayden outlines the elements of a social history of urban space to connect people's lives and livelihoods to the urban landscape as it changes over time. She then explores how communities and professionals can tap the power of historic urban landscapes to nurture public memory.

The second part documents a decade of research and practice by The Power of Place, a nonprofit organization Hayden founded in downtown Los Angeles. Through public meetings, walking tours, artists's books, and permanent public sculpture, as well as architectural preservation, teams of historians, designers, planners, and artists worked together to understand, preserve, and commemorate urban landscape history as African American, Latina, and Asian American families have experienced it.

One project celebrates the urban homestead of Biddy Mason, an African American ex-slave and midwife active betwen 1856 and 1891. Another reinterprets the Embassy Theater where Rose Pesotta, Luisa Moreno, and Josefina Fierro de Bright organized Latina dressmakers and cannery workers in the 1930s and 1940s. A third chapter tells the story of a historic district where Japanese American family businesses flourished from the 1890s to the 1940s. Each project deals with bitter memories—slavery, repatriation, internment—but shows how citizens survived and persevered to build an urban life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Drawing on many similar efforts around the United States, from New York to Charleston, Seattle to Cincinnati, Hayden finds a broad new movement across urban preservation, public history, and public art to accept American diversity at the heart of the vernacular urban landscape. She provides dozens of models for creative urban history projects in cities and towns across the country.


Art and Theory at the End of the Century

In The Return of the Real Hal Foster discusses the development of art and theory since 1960, and reorders the relation between prewar and postwar avant-gardes. Opposed to the assumption that contemporary art is somehow belated, he argues that the avant-garde returns to us from the future, repositioned by innovative practice in the present. And he poses this retroactive model of art and theory against the reactionary undoing of progressive culture that is pervasive today.

After the models of art-as-text in the 1970s and art-as-simulacrum in the 1980s; Foster suggests that we are now witness to a return to the real—to art and theory grounded in the materiality of actual bodies and social sites: If The Return of the Real begins with a new narrative of the historical avant-garde; it concludes with an original reading of this contemporary situation—and what it portends for future practices of art and theory, culture and politics.


How do Americans view environmental issues? From EarthFirst! members to sawmill workers, this study by a team of cognitive anthropologists offers both good and bad news for those addressing environmental issues in the public arena. On the one hand it reveals surprising similarities in the way different groups of Americans view long-term global environmental change, and on the other it shows that Americans have serious misunderstandings about these issues, which skews public support for policies.

Using research techniques developed in the study of other cultures, Environmental Values in American Culture explores the reasons for the recent increase in environmental sentiments among Americans, and shows that current views attributing public environmentalism to a single cause are greatly oversimplified. It investigates the components of public environmentalism: beliefs (what people think the world is like), values (what is moral or desirable), and cultural models (the organization of beliefs or values into explanations or justifications).

The authors document how scientific information on such issues as global warming, ozone depletion, and species extinctions is interpreted and transformed by the public, and how underlying beliefs and values influence preferences for or against environmental policies.

The interviews with and surveys of groups such as EarthFirst!, Sierra Club members, the general public, congressional staff, coal miners, and sawmill workers yield rich insights about how people conceptualize - and misconceptualize - major environmental issues. They also reveal public beliefs and values that differ sharply from those of environmental scientists and economists, identify what is shared by Americans and what is idiosyncratic to extreme groups, and show that religious and spiritual values concerning the environment and concerns for one's descendants are as important as economic tradeoffs.



Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense of selfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better or worse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications of technological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the social construction of technology that David Nye began in his award-winning book Electrifying America. Here Nye examines the continuing appeal of the "technological sublime" (a term coined by Perry Miller) as a key to the nation's history, using as examples the natural sites, architectural forms, and technological achievements that ordinary people have valued intensely.

American Technological Sublime is a study of the politics of perception in industrial society. Arranged chronologically, it suggests that the sublime itself has a history - that sublime experiences are emotional configurations that emerge from new social and technological conditions, and that each new configuration to some extent undermines and displaces the older versions. After giving a short history of the sublime as an aesthetic category, Nye describes the reemergence and democratization of the concept in the early nineteenth century as an expression of the American sense of specialness.

What has filled the American public with wonder, awe, even terror? David Nye selects the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Erie Canal, the first transcontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the major international expositions, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, the Empire State Building, and Boulder Dam. He then looks at the atom bomb tests and the Apollo mission as examples of the increasing ambivalence of the technological sublime in the postwar world. The festivities surrounding the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 become a touchstone reflecting the transformation of the American experience of the sublime over two centuries. Nye concludes with a vision of the modern-day "consumer sublime" as manifested in the fantasy world of Las Vegas.


Few works of political and cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative as Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. From its publication amid the social upheavals of the 1960s up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitalism and everyday life in the late twentieth cenlury. Now finally available in a superb English translation approved by the author, Debord's text remains as crucial as ever for understanding the contemporary effects of power, which are increasingly inseparable from the new virtual worlds of our rapidly changing image/information culture.

The Extensions of Man

with a new introduction by Lewis H. Lapham This reissue of Understanding Media marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.

Critical Histories of Photography
Edited by Richard Bolton

Photography's great success gives the impression that the major questions that have haunted the medium are now resolved. On the contrary - the most important questions about photography are just beginning to be asked. These fourteen essays, with over 200 illustrations, critically examine prevailing beliefs about the medium and suggest new ways to explain the history of photography. They are organized around the questions: What are the social consequences of aesthetic practice? How does photography construct sexual difference? How is photography used to promote class and national interests? What are the politics of photographic truth? The Contest of Meaning summarizes the challenges to traditional photographic history that have developed in the last decade out of a consciously political critique of photographic production. Contributions by a wide range of important Americans critics reexamine the complex - and often contradictory - roles of photography within society. Douglas Crimp, Christopher Phillips, Benjamin Buchloh, and Abigail Solomon Godeau examine the gradually developed exclusivity of art photography and describe the politics of canon formation throughout modernism. Catherine Lord, Deborah Bright, Sally Stein, and Jan Zita Grover examine the ways in which the female is configured as a subject, and explain how sexual difference is constructed across various registers of photographic representation. Carol Squiers, Esther Parada, and Richard Bolton clarify the ways in which photography serves as a form of mass communication, demonstrating in particular how photographic production is affected by the interests of the powerful patrons of communications. The three concluding essays, by Rosalind Krauss, Martha Rosler, and Allan Sekula, critically examine the concept of photographic truth by exploring the intentions informing various uses of "objective" images within society. Richard Bolton is an artist and writer who has exhibited and published widely. He has taught in the Visible Language Workshop at MIT's Media Laboratory and at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.

Edited by Craig Calhoun

The relationship between civil society and public life is in the forefront of contemporary discussion. No single scholarly voice informs this discussion more than that of Jürgen Habermas. His contributions have shaped the nature of debates over critical theory, feminism, cultural studies, and democratic politics. In this book, scholars from a wide range of disciplines respond to Habermas's most directly relevant work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. From political theory to cultural criticism, from ethics to gender studies, from history to media studies, these essays challenge, refine, and extend our understanding of the social foundations and changing character of democracy and public discourse.Craig Calhoun is Professor of Sociology and History and Director of the Program of Social Theory and CrossCultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Contributors: Hannah Arendt. Keith Baker. Seyla Benhabib. Harry C. Boyte. Craig Calhoun. Geoff Eley. Nancy Fraser. Nicholas Garnham. Jürgen Habermas. Peter Hohendahl. Lloyd Kramer. Benjamin Lee. Thomas McCarthy. Moishe Postone. Mary P. Ryan. Michael Schudson. Michael Warner. David Zaret.

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