TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. Mai 2010

Sektion 8.5. The Urbanity of the World and the Dividing of Cities
Sektionsleiterin | Section Chair: Mariana Neţ (“Iorgu Iordan – Al. Rosetti” Institute of Linguistics, Bucharest, Romania)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Section report 8.5.

The Urbanity of the World and the Dividing of Cities

Mariana Neţ (“Iorgu Iordan – Al. Rosetti” Institute of Linguistics, Bucharest, Romania) [BIO]



Modern and contemporary civilization is basically urban and urbane. Urbanity is far from being a present-day concept; it is intricately related to modernity. Cities have been always both alike and different. Society is permanently changing, transforming, creative. So are cities, and so is city life.

This was the basic premise of the section The Urbanity of the World and the Dividing of Cities. The papers presented in this section range in the extremely up-to-date trend of analysing cities and city life in a comparative perspective.

The participants investigated various aspcts of city life, both old and new, as mirrored in everyday manners, town planning, urban landscapes described in literature, architectural designs, manners and conduct manuals, popular city music. Cities compared both to themselves (e.g. Paris in the Classical Age, as compared to present-day paris) and between themselves (e.g. Bucharest and London). The street is the main axis of city life. Its atmosphere has a poignant impact of behaviour, thought, cognition. People interact with each other, as well as with the (urban) milieu they live in.

The aim of this project, viz. of the papers presented in this section, was to reconsider the concept of urbanity, viewed as a modern lifestyle. To this end, the papers presented made an analysis of the intricate relationships between the basic features of various urban milieus, on the one hand, and considered their impact on urban identities, on the other hand. Therefore, complex synchronical and diachronical research has been done by specialists in various aspects of the history of culture and civilization, art history, architecture, urbanism, literary history and literary criticism, media, semiotics, linguistics, cultural philosophy.

From among the topics investigated during the talks and discussions, I would like to mention: some of the most pertinent features of urban identities, and their variation in space and time; people’s most frequent reactions to urbanity; European urban and urbane identity (in the 19th century, and in the 20th century), as contrasted to American urban identities; variations of city framings and representations from the 16th century to-date;  the “co-habitation” of, and tensions between, the various cities existing within the city; specific urban pastimes; media and the city; typically urban atmosphere; urban stereotypes, in language, literature and the fine arts. All the participants emphasised a few interesting aspects of their topics and contributed to a better understanding of the field they investigated.

Thus, Ralph Poole analysed the hybrid “Arabesk” music, a reality in present-day urban mass culture from the 1970s onwards. Ioana-Crina Coroi spoke about the impact of the literary media on townspeople’s consciousness around 1900. Sanda-Maria Ardeleanu made a semiotic analysis of a few contemporary photographs of Paris, while dealing with stereotypical representations of the city. Paule Rosetto investigated a few references to urban life in Paris in the Classical Age, viz. in the works of Bossuet, Madame de Sevigné, and Scarron, and showed in which way the maps of Paris and of Europe in those times were tributary to collective delusions. Georgiana Lungu-Badea and Ileana Oancea referred to several aspects of the citadine immigrant’s portrait, as reflected in two contemporary novels by Romanian authors living in Paris. Esther Grabiner presented a research on the double urban impact of a model of Ancient Jerusalem on present-day mentalities and lifestyles, as reflected in visual arts. The paper written by Asunción López-Varela and Steven Totossy de Zepetnek bore the title “Spaces Within, Spaces Without: Creativity, Knowledge, Transfer, and the Transformation of Societies”, and dealt with the contribution of literary representations of cities to enriching urban imaginaries, and to imposing certain lifestyles. Along much the same lines, Rodica Marian spoke about the literary representations of Bruges, as a possible alterity of the Flemish Symbolist writer Georges Rodenbach. The paper submitted by Lia Chisacof  investigated a typical urban phenomenon in the Balkans during the Enlightenment, viz. “Closed Doors Performances in Wallachia at the End of the 18th Century”. Frideriki Tabaki-Iona spoke about the literary geography of Paris, as presented in Flaubert’s novel L’éducation sentimentale. Ana-Maria Stoica drew a parallel between the lifestyles of the upper middle-class in London and Bucharest, as presented in the novels of John Galsworthy and Camil Petrescu. Izhak Schnell and Madeleine Schechter referred to the Etzel Museum in Tel Aviv, as a liminal place of memory. Iuliana Apetri described the different identity levels in the shared urban space, leading to the concept of various cities within the city. Malka Ben-Peshat investigated the double phenomenon of survival of a vernacular street in Israel, while describing the survival of the street in the city and its images throughout the shopping malls. The paper submitted by Edina Meyer-Maril referred to ”mandatory” Haifa and its lifestyles, as reflected in architectural styles. Renée Gadsden spoke about Art Deco and Urban Development in New York, with special reference to the Grand Concourse (the Bronx subway, inaugurated in the 1930s). Lorenza Popescu analyzed the changing lifestyles in modern Bucharest at the turn of the 19th century, as mirrored by middle class women’s fashion. Mariana Neţ investigated the framing of middle class urban identities in the 19th century by New York city guides. Roxana-Magdalena Barlea and Petre-Gheorghe Barlea analyzed the daily language of urban periphery in Post-Communist Romania.

As it is easy to see from this brief report, participants coming from various fields and universities from Europe and the Middle East embarked upon transdisciplinary research projects dealing with cities and urbanity. Lifestyles were one of the contsant values lying at the basis of each and every investigation. All papers were both well-docummented and creative, bringing about original contributions to the development of knowledge not only in their particular fields, but on a transdisciplinary level.

8.5. The Urbanity of the World and the Dividing of Cities

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

TRANS   Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Mariana Neţ: Section report 8.5. The Urbanity of the World and the Dividing of Cities - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

Webmeister: Gerald Mach     last change: 2010-05-27