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As the largest stretch of inland water within Britain, Loch Lomond has always held a special significance both locally and, increasingly, within the national consciousness. As a pass to the Highlands from Glasgow, it represented both access and vulnerability, while being hemmed in both east and west by mountains made it as dangerous as it was romantic. For the fleeing Scots, lured by the opportunities to disappear into the islands of the loch, it represented, in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s rather fanciful account, a sure haven, but, as the narrative continues, “it proved of little advantage to them. For Arthur, having got together a fleet, sailed round the rivers, and besieged the enemy fifteen days together, by which they were so straitened with hunger, that they died by thousands.”

This paper explores the historical and cultural development of Loch Lomond and its immediate neighbourhood. This includes its role as a place of retreat and concealment as well as its significance as a means of access and thoroughfare, both roles facilitated by the structure and resilience of the landscape. It pays particular attention to the part it played during the tourism boom of the eighteenth century, when Defoe, Boswell and Johnson, the fictional Matthew Bramble, and the real William Wordsworth visited or passed through.

In: Reflective Landscapes of the Anglophone Countries

The paper establishes the terms of reference for the analysis of wilderness as a symbolic form by showing rather striking and persistent family resemblances of significance between a painting by Matthias Grünewald circa. 1512, the wilderness writing of Henry David Thoreau, and the metaphysical picture of wilderness in the painting project of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven and their contemporary Canadian successor, the photographer Edward Burtynsky. I will proceed to establish this skein of significance among these three programs that span modernity by problematizing wilderness as a symbolic form, not as an idea. This will lead me to show by way of conclusion that refuge is the persistent theme of wilderness.

In: Reflective Landscapes of the Anglophone Countries
In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

This article looks at the representation of an Athenian avenue as it appears in a contemporary Greek short story, in an attempt to trace the profile of the place as an ultimately modern space called into question, however, by transgressions. The story ‘I Think That Syngrou Avenue Looks Like Me’ by Manos Kontoleon describes the unique relationship developed between the writer and the high-speed avenue that connects the centre of Athens with its coastline: initiated by and experienced via an embodied approach to space, this relationship allows the writer to identify himself with a particular part of the city. The discussion of Kontoleon’s portrayal of Syngrou Avenue focuses on the relationship between space and subjective experience, a relationship that has been a subject of investigation in modern European art and architectural theory over the past century. The paper specifically draws on psychoanalytic and phenomenological theories, which reflect this particular sensibility towards modern space, aiming in this way to contribute further to the discussion of European cityscapes and urban mindscapes.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

Building on the current European-wide debate on strategies for city marketing, and using Berlin as a case study, this article proposes two ways in which literature could successfully be used to project a city’s complex identity. The article argues that the marketing of Berlin as a tourist destination could be enhanced firstly by promoting the contemporary literary scene as part of Berlin’s cultural diversity; and secondly by using Berlin literature to convey the historically determined identity of the city. Opportunities for, and conditions attached to, the inclusion of literature in an integrated tourism concept are highlighted.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture in 1990 is widely perceived as an event both marking and precipitating a renaissance in perceptions of the city. As part of a project looking at the long-term legacies of 1990, including the image legacy, this paper uses cartoon depictions of Glasgow’s City of Culture experience as a tool by which to analyse what is now seen across Europe as a landmark cultural regeneration initiative. It argues that the caustic, politically incorrect genre of the cartoon articulates underlying social stereotypes that survive such initiatives and run counter to more mainstream narratives. It describes how the cartoons both enact a comic exposure of Culture City folly and articulate aspects of a city’s self-mythology and urban mindscape.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

Paul Brookes has developed a reputation in the UK as an innovative place marketing specialist through his work for Bradford’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture 2008 from 2001-2003 and for the ‘Leicester Revealed’ project initiated by Leicester Shire Promotions (2003-2006). The interview highlights the importance of flagship events in place marketing, and the huge expectations which are often placed on the process of marketing cities. Place marketing is in many cases seen as a road to salvation for cities, as a way of reinventing local economies which are in structural decline or of attempting to become successful tourist destinations, in a context of increasingly fierce global competition in the tourism market. In other cases place marketing is seen as a tool to support and develop a city’s distinctiveness, and to enhance local pride, a sense of community, cohesion, and belonging. Paul Brookes argues that managing the often unrealistic expectations of local politicians and policymakers, other stakeholders, the media and the general public is one of the key tasks for a good place marketer. With regard to this, Brookes also raises the complex issue of the democratic legitimacy of unelected place marketing agencies, which in some cases make decisions which should be subject to proper scrutiny by voters.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

Symbolic buildings are defining elements of European cityscapes. Cities are often grasped and imagined through these buildings, and continue to be represented by them, even when their meanings are completely transformed. This transformation of meaning is obvious in the case of buildings with a strong political connotation. In the case of buildings that are not explicitly politically charged, it is, however, a more complex process, mobilised by different, though interwoven discourses of the city, opinions, wishes and representations, of which only a part can be explained in the strictly defined political dimension. In this article I will demonstrate how the meaning of such distinguished symbols of Budapest as the Chain Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge have changed over the recent decades, and how the role of the ‘symbol of the city’ has drifted from one bridge to the other, according to the actual political and social context.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

The urban anthropologist Franco La Cecla refers to the Socratean warning against ‘taking yourself with you’ on your travels to strange lands and the danger, if we do, that we risk ‘colonising with our presence every step of the journey’ for ‘to know new places corresponds in this century with denying their difference’. This paper considers the event of encounter with the unknown city, emphasising the broader implications of the act of transition (with its etymological traces of ‘passing through’, ‘being infected’ as well as ‘going over to the enemy’). Drawing on Marc Augé’s theory of the ‘abstractly familiar non-places of supermodernity’ in antithetical conjunction with the ‘strangely familiar’ experience of the Freudian uncanny, the paper analyses what is involved for the identity of the subject in the suspended process of de-/re-orientation.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

In our age of fragmentation it is quite an uncommon idea – perhaps even one out of step with the spirit of the times – to think of the gestalt of something. Indeed, the idea of gestalt refers to the very opposite of fragmentation, the supposed sign of our times: namely to the interconnectedness of phenomena. Nevertheless this essay suggests that we think of the urban imaginary as the mental gestalt of the city. According to the founder of gestalt theory, Max Wertheimer, the gestalt is an organised unity where the part processes are determined by the nature of the whole. Conversely the whole must already be revealed in the part. The basic theme of a city’s imaginary – product of the historically formative economic sector – is our case in point.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe