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Vandana Baweja

School of Architecture
2016-2017 Library Enhancement Grant

Dr. Vandana Baweja, Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture, received a Library Enhancement Grant to acquire books about cities in cinema. The making of space is important to understanding the function of art. The aesthetic effects of an artwork do not only consist in its own internal beauty, but also its relationship with space. The use of lighting, the placement of an object, and the angle from which it is viewed affect our experience of the artwork and our memory of it. As works of art, films are no different but pose to an intriguing question: how architecture and urbanism are represented in cinema and inversely how discourses of cinema construct urbanism and architecture?

The cultural vantage point of film allows us to access the spatial imagination that shaped our modern world of sprawling cities, suburbs, and hinterlands. As such, films are an important primary source for architectural and urban history, but also for cultural history. The cultural tropes of the shadowy figure in the alleyway or the concept of an “infernal” city-scape tie together the different cultural worlds of Jack the Ripper inspired yellow journalism to the popular American television show, CSI, and films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

The acquisition of books about cities in Japanese, Turkish, German, and American cinema (among others) will provide important research materials for students and faculty who study popular culture, urban history, architecture, international studies, as well as cinematic representations of cities. The books chosen reflect upon how theories of film intersect with histories of architecture. The collection highlights the role that architecture and urbanism play in cinema’s construction of race, gender, sexuality, colonialism, orientalism, class, and globalization.