Vienna, Paris, Shanghai, Berlin


Dear NEHers 

We may want to try online postings to preview presentations or to share responses. Let's see if this space works.

 At our first session, this afternoon, we'll look at some introductory texts to lay the groundwork for further discussion. Carl Schorske on the spatial reorganization of modern(ist) Vienna and Walter Benjamin on Baudelaire's account of Paris as modern metropolis can provide some hypothetically transferable paradigms to understand Shanghai and Berlin and their urban modernism. I suppose ultimately we may want to posit "urban modernisms," i.e., constellations of distinct particularities, but presumably they have some elements in common. For Schorske the new space is post-liberal and, fundamentally (if not consistently) post-aristocratic: it is the dimensionality of the liberal bourgeois, and it elicits diametrical critiques: communitarian (Sitte) and functionalist (O. Wagner). Is the modern space too rational or not rational enough? And where can these questions be directed to Berlin and Shanghai. In both venues, urban modernism will come under attack. What are the weak spots? What are the weak spots in modernity?