February: Writing, Reading & Other Stuff

It has been another busy month of reading, writing and moving, as I have returned to California. Here is the round up of books, writings and future work on the horizon for me as February comes to an end.

Writing

I received some helpful reviewer comments on the Lefebvre article, as well as presenting a version of it last week. Although the article will not be published in the original journal (concern over the right audience by the editors), I am pleased with the response from the reviewers and editors, as well as the direction the article is taking, and got some great suggestions for more appropriate journals from the editor and colleagues. I will continue to develop the ideas and (hopefully) get another manuscript into one of the journals before it falls to far down the priority list.

I finished the chapter on street porticoes in Ostia and will send it off to the editor this week. I had originally planned on covering both the archaeological, architectural and literary development of porticoes in Rome, but that was far to big a task for an edited chapter. In the end, I cut the literary evidence, although I will likely use that work in my book manuscript. The chapter, therefore, is based around a case study of street porticoes in Ostia (size, dimensions, locations) from the perspective of street acoustics. It charts the effect of portico frontages on the sound dissipation in the street carriageway for three central streets in Ostia between 115 CE and 140 CE. I use Lefebvre and Ingold to argue for the interpretation of streets through experience of movement. That is, the experience, in this case acoustic experience, of the street transitions with the addition of porticoes to accommodate potentially higher levels of noise, which were registered in social terms. The architecture of streets of the second century CE was an attempt to deal with the implications of street paving, architectural narrowing (at certain sites) and increasing usage. I then placed the street architecture within the prolonged spatial and mobility history of Rome. Several key points in time saw an increase in porticoes, both free standing enclosed spaces and street porticoes, which relate to developments in wider street architectures and conceptions of movement in Rome.

I cut the discussion of monastic cloisters and enclosed porticoes that I was taking from Lefebvre’s Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, as I wanted to keep the focus on streets. I will reuse some of that writing in my on-going study of the use of antiquity in Lefebvre’s thought.

Books

I have been reading more theoretical and history of thought type books this month. I am halfway through Martin Jay’s Downcast Eyes: The denigration of vision in twentieth-century French thought. It is a fascinating read and chapters 1-3 cover much of the same time period and thought that Lefebvre analyses in The Production of Space, although with a different focus. The second half of the book gets into the more contemporary scholars and their approaches to what Jay calls ‘ocularcentrism’.

I also read Michel de Certeau’s Culture in the Plural, which has some clear points of contact with Lefebvre’s writings and offers insights into de Certeau’s development of ideas that appear later in The Practice of Everyday Life.

I have acquired a few freebies from the UC Berkeley Environmental Design library free books cart: Christian Norberg-Schulz’s Intentions in Architecture (1962); The Urban Moment: Cosmopolitan Essays on the Late 20th Century City edited by Robert A. Beauregard and Sophie Body-Gendrot (1999); and David Perry (ed.) Building the Public City: The politics, governance, and finance of public infrastructure (1995).

Odds and Sods

My library will begin its trek back to California at the end of this week. I was told it will take 82-102 days so, I have pulled a handful of books I think I will need over the next couple of months. It was hard trying to plan what sort of materials I will need to hand for the next couple months. I am glad that the UC Berkeley libraries are available so, I am not left in the cold (which it is currently very cold back here in London).

However, it did give me a chance to think about what I hope to get done in the coming months: 1) I am hoping to get a complete draft of my book manuscript chapter on street acoustics done; 2) I have a couple of reviews to write; 3) turn around the Lefebvre article and submit a copy; 4) revise a post-doc application that I did not submit (due to the international move), but want to have ready for the future. I think that will keep me more than busy enough.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you will likely know/see lots of cycling related posts. I am currently starting to get ready for a series (3 in total) of century rides (100 miles or 100km depending on the ride). The rides take place at the end of April/beginning of May and are all in California (Chico, Bay Area, Watsonville). It will give me a chance to see some old friends, enjoy the outside and add a ton of miles to the Ritchey (my road bike). I am looking forward to the rides, but am a bit nervous about the amount of time I will be sitting on the bike (and the resulting saddle sore of 6+ hours on bike). The post-ride dinners for each century are catered by some great breweries, which will help with the recovery…

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