Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Urban constellations : reading contemporary cityscapes with Benjamin and Baudrillard
Author: Thompson, Zoë
ISNI:       0000 0004 2696 6065
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2010
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis seeks to contribute to the literature on Walter Benjamin and Jean Baudrillard, but not to merely retread old debates. It is concerned instead with a re-evaluation of the work of both thinkers in a particular context: the experience of the new cultural spaces, of twenty-first century post-industrial cities, and in relation to each other. I argue, following Benjamin, that these spaces function as contemporary ‘dreamhouses’. Deploying a constellation of Benjamin and Baudrillard’s ideas to read such spaces illuminates the experience of the contemporary cityscape around the themes of spectacle, distraction, interactivity, simulation and consumption. The thesis examines how these iconic architectural projects, the technological body of the cityscape, mediate our experiences of art, nature, personal and collective memory, and notions of public culture. I argue that we must read Benjamin again after Baudrillard in order to assess the value of both thinkers’ contribution to the understanding of contemporary cities organisation of space and culture. The contingent proximity that is uncovered when reading the theorists both together and against each other, is one which ultimately argues for the persistence of certain ‘messianic’ moments; traces or interruptions which can be uncovered against the notion of Baudrillardian ‘simulation’. This is to take seriously, rather than dispense with, Baudrillardian ideas. Both Benjamin and Baudrillard, together, are necessary to understand the experience of contemporary urban culture. Taking the form of four empirical encounters between the theoretical concepts and the cultural spaces themselves, I set out to locate these messianic possibilities. Each of the analytical chapters focuses on a different cultural space: The Lowry, Salford; The Deep, Hull, The Sage, Gateshead; and The Public, West Bromwich.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GV Recreation Leisure ; HT Communities. Classes. Races ; NX Arts in general ; HM Sociology