Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Final Paper Proposal

I plan to look at mass transportation in cities, specifically subway systems, to see how this form of travel affects residents' imagined and realized experiences of the city. I want to challenge De Certeau's rigid distinction between rail travel and walking through the city--I feel like mass transportation in some ways fills the gap between this binary. In what ways do the subways allow one to "map" the city, but through motion, not through vision, since the movement occurs for the most part underground (the antithesis of De Certeau's bird's eye view). How does the idea of walking-as-speaking become changed when the act of walking is transposed onto an underground transportation system in which the individuals that make up the crowd have many choices but their paths are notheless constrained by preexisting routes of travel. How does constant repetition of this movement (twice daily for most commuters) affect this experience, and does this simultaneous circulation of people parallel Anderson's notion of the newspaper as mass ceremony? I will look at De Certau, Anderson, Lynch, and possibly Jameson's "Cognitive Mapping."

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