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Urban Tissue: The Myth of the Organic and the Right to the City in Fictions of the Postdemocratic United States.

Author: Patrick W GallagherPhillip Brian HarperKristin RossJini Kim WatsonPatrick DeerAll authors
Publisher: 2012.
Dissertation: Ph. D. New York University 2012
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Publication:Dissertation Abstracts International, 73-07A.
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
This dissertation examines both literary and theoretical texts' mobilization of the "organicist imaginary"--A mode of conceptualizing cities as naturally coherent, almost bodily entities, and thereby dissembling the socio-economic fissures that actually characterize urban societies. The first chapter shows how Jane Jacobs's wildly influential urbanist polemic The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)
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Details

Genre/Form: Dissertations, Academic
Academic theses
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Patrick W Gallagher; Phillip Brian Harper; Kristin Ross; Jini Kim Watson; Patrick Deer; Harvey Molotch
ISBN: 9781267259912 1267259914
OCLC Number: 809766311
Notes: Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 73-07, Section: A, page.
Adviser: Phillip Brian Harper.
Description: 1 online resource (337 pages)

Abstract:

This dissertation examines both literary and theoretical texts' mobilization of the "organicist imaginary"--A mode of conceptualizing cities as naturally coherent, almost bodily entities, and thereby dissembling the socio-economic fissures that actually characterize urban societies. The first chapter shows how Jane Jacobs's wildly influential urbanist polemic The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) deploys rhetoric identifying the city as an organism in multiple registers so as to propose ways of coping with the stresses of social life in the racially segregated, violent, and deeply unequal U.S. city of the 1960s.

Subsequent chapters show how novels written approximately one generation after the so-called "Urban Crisis" of the 1960s deploy very similar rhetoric in their efforts to enact histories of the period, thereby demonstrating that conservative anxieties over acknowledging the existence of social cleavages can function in tandem with a utopian impulse in writing about cities. The ideologically flexible way in which the organic can operate as both radically democratic and disingenuously conservative becomes very evident in Chapter Two, which demonstrates how "organicist personalities" defined by adherence to physicality and intuition over rational intellect rise to extra-institutional forms of political power in two seemingly dissimilar novelistic depictions of "White Flight" and its urban aftermath, Paul Beatty's broad satire The White Boy Shuffle (1996) and Philip Roth's family drama American Pastoral (1997).

Chapter Three shows how Richard Price's ostensible crime novel Clockers (1992) figures the postindustrial U.S. city as an alternative to the social structures of modernity by appropriating Whitmanesque and Melvillean rhetoric in its rendering of the city as the source of a mystical, yet physical connection between the bodies of characters otherwise divided by race and class. Finally, Chapter Four explores the antagonism toward history that is concealed beneath the organicist utopianism of Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex (2002), arguing that when the main character's Greek-American family leaves Detroit for the suburbs and first begins to identify as fully "white," the novel simultaneously shifts its narrative focus from the twentieth-century history of the city to the body of its transgender protagonist, in which the city's social complexities are paradoxically resolved.

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