front cover of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Architecture after Images
Edward Dimendberg
University of Chicago Press, 2013
In Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Architecture after Images, Edward Dimendberg offers the first comprehensive treatment of one of the most imaginative contemporary design studios.  Since founding their practice in 1979, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have integrated architecture, urban design, media art, and the performing arts in a dazzling array of projects, which include performances, art installations, and books, in addition to buildings and public spaces.  At the center of this work is a fascination with vision and a commitment to questioning the certainty and security long associated with architecture.

Dimendberg provides an extensive overview of these concerns and the history of the studio, revealing how principals Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro continue to expand the definition of architecture, question the nature of space and vision in contemporary culture, and produce work that is endlessly surprising and rewarding, from New York’s High Line to Blur, an artificial cloud, and Facsimile, a video screen that moves around a building facade.  Dimendberg also explores the relation of work by DS+R to that by earlier modernists such as Marcel Duchamp and John Hejduk.  He reveals how the fascination of the architects with evolving forms of media, technology, and building materials has produced works that unsettle distinctions among architecture and other media.
Based on interviews with the architects, their clients, and collaborators as well as unprecedented access to unpublished documents, sketchbook entries, and archival records, Diller Scofidio + Renfro is the most thorough consideration of DS+R in any language. Illustrated with many previously unpublished renderings in addition to photos from significant contemporary photographers, this book is an essential study of one of the most significant and creative architecture and design studios working today.


front cover of Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity
Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity
Edward Dimendberg
Harvard University Press, 2004

Film noir remains one of the most enduring legacies of 1940s and ’50s Hollywood. Populated by double-crossing, unsavory characters, this pioneering film style explored a shadow side of American life during a period of tremendous prosperity and optimism. Edward Dimendberg compellingly demonstrates how film noir is preoccupied with modernity—particularly the urban landscape.

The originality of Dimendberg’s approach lies in his examining these films in tandem with historical developments in architecture, city planning, and modern communications systems. He confirms that noir is not simply a reflection of modernity but a virtual continuation of the spaces of the metropolis. He convincingly shows that Hollywood’s dark thrillers of the postwar decades were determined by the same forces that shaped the city itself.

Exploring classic examples of film noir such as The Asphalt Jungle, Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Naked City alongside many lesser-known works, Dimendberg masterfully interweaves film history and urban history while perceptively analyzing works by Raymond Chandler, Edward Hopper, Siegfried Kracauer, and Henri Lefebvre. A bold intervention in cultural studies and a major contribution to film history, Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity will provoke debate by cinema scholars, urban historians, and students of modern culture—and will captivate admirers of a vital period in American cinema.


front cover of Los Angeles
Los Angeles
The Development, Life, and Structure of the City of Two Million in Southern California
Anton Wagner
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2022
For the first time, Anton Wagner’s groundbreaking 1935 book that launched the study of Los Angeles as an urban metropolis is available in English.
No book on the emergence of Los Angeles, today a metropolis of more than four million people, has been more influential or elusive than this volume by Anton Wagner. Originally published in German in 1935 as Los Angeles: Werden, Leben und Gestalt der Zweimillionenstadt in Südkalifornien, it is one of the earliest geographical investigations of a city understood as a series of layered landscapes. Wagner demonstrated that despite its geographical disadvantages, Los Angeles grew rapidly into a dominant urban region, bolstered by agriculture, real estate development, transportation infrastructure, tourism, the oil and automobile industries, and the film business. Although widely reviewed upon its initial publication, his book was largely forgotten until reintroduced by architectural historian Reyner Banham in his 1971 classic Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies.
This definitive translation is annotated by Edward Dimendberg and preceded by his substantial introduction, which traces Wagner's biography and intellectual formation in 1930s Germany and contextualizes his work among that of other geographers. It is an essential work for students, scholars, and curious readers interested in urban geography and the rise of Los Angeles as a global metropolis.

“This fine new translation by Timothy Grundy of Anton Wagner's Los Angeles with Edward Dimendberg's lucidly probing introduction constitutes a major contribution to urban history and our understanding of one of the world's most enigmatic and significant cities.”

—Thomas S. Hines, Research Professor of History and Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA

“Edward Dimendberg has done a remarkable job bringing Anton Wagner's classic study of Los Angeles to a wider readership. This landmark publication will enable many strands of urban scholarship to enter into dialogue for the first time.”

—Matthew Gandy, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge, and author of Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space (2022)

 “Anton Wagner was a prescient and troubling historical figure. Nearly a century ago, with his camera in hand, he walked Los Angeles in fervent exploration of metropolitan growth. This beautiful and expert book takes Wagner every bit as seriously as he took Los Angeles.”
—William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
"Anton Wagner’s geographic and ethnographic history of the urbanization of Los Angeles has long been unavailable to English-speaking readers. This early study, accompanied by Edward Dimendberg’s comprehensive introduction, will be of interest to all who, like Reyner Banham, admire its impressive scholarship and firsthand account of a city and ecology already in the throes of dynamic transformation."
—Joan Ockman, Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History, Yale School of Architecture
"Encompassing copious photographs, insightful commentary, and thorough reconstruction of Wagner’s life and times, this new translation of Anton Wagner’s Los Angeles provides the missing link in scholarship about the metropolis during the early twentieth century. Its continuing relevance and controversial edge will appeal to urban researchers and college students beyond Southern California."
—Michael Dear, Professor Emeritus of City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
"Scholars of Los Angeles, or any city, must rejoice at this first proper English-language publication of Wagner's brilliant, if problematic, urban studies masterpiece. The edition is made accessible and relevant by Edward Dimendberg's indispensable prefatory material and contextualization."
—Roger Keil, Professor of Environmental and Urban Change, York University
“Finally translating this fascinating book into English fills an important gap in our historical knowledge of Los Angeles and its interpretation. Edward Dimendberg's invaluable introduction situates Anton Wagner in a comprehensive intellectual context. Of more than merely historical interest, this in-depth picture of Los Angeles in 1933 is essential reading for anyone interested in cities.”
—Margaret Crawford, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
“This key text from 1935 for understanding Los Angeles urbanism is finally available in an excellent English translation by Timothy Grundy. Revelatory introductory essays by Anthony Vidler and Edward Dimendberg explain how German geographer (and later Nazi Party member) Anton Wagner was able to map and conceptualize the radical originality of this archetypal American metropolis in ways that deeply influenced Reyner Banham and so many subsequent writers on the city.”
—Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning, University of Michigan
"Expertly annotated by Edward Dimendberg, Anton Wagner’s book on the growth of Los Angeles, which first appeared in German in 1935, is a landmark study in the history of urbanization. At the same time, it can be read as an example of transnational and comparative history, in which an observer from one country commented on developments in another. This volume will interest historians of the modern city, both in America and in Germany."
—Andrew Lees, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University
“Blending his wide knowledge and his acute wit, Edward Dimendberg has meticulously reconstructed the genesis of a forgotten doctoral thesis, which had remained unread for more than eighty years, despite its acknowledgement by Reyner Banham. This pioneering scholarly study of the Southern Californian metropolis is now available for the first time in English, inscribed with subtlety in both its German and its American contexts on the basis of thorough investigations.”
—Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
"This is the odyssey of a book written and published in 1930s Nazi Germany, forgotten after the war, and rediscovered by Reyner Banham in the ‘70s. Los Angeles is a seminal text of modern architectural history and confronts readers in the present with the paradox of an unknown classic.“
—Wolfgang Schivelbusch, author of The Railway Journey
“Finally, a translation of Anton Wagner’s Los Angeles, with extensive notes and a superb and deeply researched introduction by Edward Dimendberg, has arrived.  It turns out that it was worth the wait. This volume is not only an important historic document, but a still-unrivaled portrait of a great city.”
—Robert Bruegmann, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Sprawl: A Compact History
"Scholars of Los Angeles can rejoice that Anton Wagner’s legendary study of early 1930s Los Angeles is at last available in a masterful translation, with a luminous introduction by Edward Dimendberg that captures Wagner’s analytical brilliance as well as his troubling politics and racial views. An essential addition to any library of Southern California."
—Louis S. Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, University of California, Davis
“Anton Wagner’s study provides an invaluable and frequently perceptive window into the evolution of Los Angeles during the early twentieth century, showing how human agency transformed regional resources into a booming major city.  The translation is immensely enhanced by Edward Dimendberg’s skillful provision of context, including fascinating intellectual history.”
—Stephen Bell, Professor of Geography and History, UCLA
"Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Structure of the City of Two Million in Southern California has always had an elusive presence in the conversation about the explosive growth of the Southern California metropolis at the beginning of the twentieth century: an arcane text known to exist, but only accessible to very few. This expert first translation in English almost ninety years after it originally appeared in German is prefaced by a complex and engaging introduction by Edward Dimendberg that situates the original study in a multidisciplinary conversation. It elucidates the many ways this landmark essay on Los Angeles’s urban geography was not only filtered into subsequent scholarship on the city—Reyner Banham’s iconic Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies in particular—but also how it resonates with contemporary debates about cities as complex social organisms. This book will be essential reading not only for historians of Los Angeles but for those interested in the theorization of the modern metropolis more broadly. That the volume editor addresses Wagner’s problematic views on race and territorial conquest front and center, within their historic context, only adds to the significance of this undertaking."
—Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

front cover of The Object of the Atlantic
The Object of the Atlantic
Concrete Aesthetics in Cuba, Brazil, and Spain, 1868–1968
Rachel Price
Northwestern University Press, 2014

The Object of the Atlantic is a wide-ranging study of the transition from a concern with sovereignty to a concern with things in Iberian Atlantic literature and art produced between 1868 and 1968. Rachel Price uncovers the surprising ways that concrete aesthetics from Cuba, Brazil, and Spain drew not only on global forms of constructivism but also on a history of empire, slavery, and media technologies from the Atlantic world. Analyzing Jose Marti’s notebooks, Joaquim de Sousandrade’s poetry, Ramiro de Maeztu’s essays on things and on slavery, 1920s Cuban literature on economic restructuring, Ferreira Gullar’s theory of the “non-object,” and neoconcrete art, Price shows that the turn to objects—and from these to new media networks—was rooted in the very philosophies of history that helped form the Atlantic world itself.


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The Powers of the False
Reading, Writing, Thinking beyond Truth and Fiction
Doro Wiese
Northwestern University Press, 2014
Can literature make it possible to represent histories that are otherwise ineffable? Making use of the Deleuzian concept of “the powers of the false,” Doro Wiese offers readings of three novels that deal with the Shoah, with colonialism, and with racialized identities. She argues that Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish, and Richard Powers’s The Time of Our Singing are novels in which a space for unvoiced, silent, or silenced difference is created. Seen through the lens of Deleuze and his collaborators’ philosophy, literature is a means for mediating knowledge and affects about historical events. Going beyond any simple dichotomy between true and untrue accounts of what “really” happened in the past, literature’s powers of the false incite readers to long for a narrative space in which painful or shameful stories can be included.

front cover of The Practical Past
The Practical Past
Hayden White
Northwestern University Press, 2014

Hayden White borrows the title for The Practical Past from philosopher Michael Oakeshott, who used the term to describe the accessible material and literary-artistic artifacts that individuals and institutions draw on for guidance in quotidian affairs. The Practical Past, then, forms both a summa of White’s work to be drawn upon and a new direction in his thinking about the writing of history.

White’s monumental Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973) challenged many of the commonplaces of professional historical writing and wider assumptions about the ontology of history itself. It formed the basis of his argument that we can never recover “what actually happened”in the past and cannot really access even material culture in context. Forty years on, White sees “professional history" as falling prey to narrow specialization, and he calls upon historians to take seriously the practical past of explicitly “artistic” works, such as novels and dramas, and literary theorists likewise to engage historians.


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