Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else
— Italo Calvino
This session unearths the layered metafictions of the city: how the stories we tell about our cities restructure the cities themselves and how the city alters how we tell stories about ourselves. What is the science and the imagination of a city? What maps and narratives lie hidden but also animate the familiar atlas of everyday space? Through notions of the “unreal city,” we explore the visions, apocalyptic or aspirational, that imagine a city into being.
Dominic Pettman is professor of culture and media at Eugene Lang College and The New School for Social Research. Pettman is interested in behavior and phenomena that escape the overcoding of everyday life in the age of hyper-capitalism. This includes the emergent, vestigial, anachronistic, marginal, clandestine, elliptical, stubborn, confounding, communal, improvised, untimely, unexpected, unplanned, unspoken, unrecognized, slow, quiet, seductive, opaque, attentive, unproductive, unprofitable, unalgorithmic, glitchy, and other cultural clinamens.
Pettman is author of After the Orgy: Toward a Politics of Exhaustion (SUNY, 2002); Love and Other Technologies: Retrofitting Eros for the Information Age (Fordham, 2006); Human Error: Species-Being and Media Machines (Minnesota, 2011); Look at the Bunny: Totem, Taboo, Technology (Zero Books, 2013); In Divisible Cities (Deal Letter Office / Punctum Press, 2013); Infinite Distraction: Paying Attention to Social Media (Polity, 2016); Humid, All Too Humid (Punctum, 2016); Creaturely Love: How Desire Makes Us More, and Less, Than Human (Minnesota, 2017); and Sonic Intimacy: Voice, Species, Technics (Stanford, 2017). He is also the co-author of Avoiding the Subject: Media, Culture, and the Object (Amsterdam University Press, 2004), with Justin Clemens.
Gyan Prakash is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University, where he specializes in the history of modern India. His research and teaching focus on urban modernity, the colonial genealogies of modernity, and problems of postcolonial thought and politics. His book Mumbai Fables (Princeton University Press and HarperCollins, India), an edited volume, Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City, and a co-edited volume, Utopia/Dystopia: Historical Conditions of Possibility were published by Princeton University Press in 2010. The Tower of Silence, a book based on a 1927 detective novel manuscript that he discovered and edited, was published in 2013. Mumbai Fables has been adapted for a film, Bombay Velvet (2015), for which he wrote the original story and cowrote the screenplay. His most recent book is Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy's Turning Point (New Delhi: Penguin, 2018, Princeton, 2019).