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In Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan, Simon Gunn and Susan Townsend have written the equivalent of three books.
Research on immigration to Britain at the turn of the 20th century largely conforms to historiographical conventions which privilege the nation state as a framework for investigation and which adhere to narrative chronologies relevant to nations. These conventions, Ewence contends, eclipse much from view which does not easily fit into such established categories.
In 1979 Pete Wrong of the art collective and Punk band Crass was being interviewed by New Society about his graffiti operation on the London Underground: ‘We don’t just rip the posters down or spray them. We use stencils, neatly, to qualify them.
This short book deals with urban panegyric in the 12th and 13th centuries. It takes ‘urban panegyric’ to mean the ‘praise of cities’, whether expressed in (quite often poetical) texts written with the express purpose of praising cities, or as parts of texts whose titles do not necessarily suggest that praise of a city might be found there.
The age of lesbian and gay, in which those were the dominant terms for homoeroticism and other things that seemed (sometimes arbitrarily) to be related to it, appears to be over.
Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Extraordinarily, Nick Daly’s The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth Century is the 97th book published in CUP’s ‘Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture’ series, under the general editorship of Gillian Beer.
By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis is an absorbing and complex piece of work. In it, Paul Fyfe argues that accidents not only shaped Victorian cities, but also played a role in shaping written forms and literary genres, from newspaper layouts to the 19th-century novel.
This formidable and scholarly volume, a major contribution to urban, social and cultural history, is first and foremost a tribute to one of its co-authors, Charles McKean, the distinguished architectural historian, who sadly died when the book was being written.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.