On Wednesday this week, I will be finished my three and a half week long course on Community Mapping. Since my next course starts in the middle of July, I’ll have some time to do some personal reading. Here’s what’s on my reading list for the next few weeks:
- Social Fabric of the Networked City, edited by Géraldine Pflieger et al., EPFL Press, 2008.
- Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture, edited by Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.
I found these first two books on the “new books” display shelf at UVic’s McPherson Library during my first week of class in early May. I’ve tried to read a bit of Social Fabric of the Networked City, but I’ve found it to be too dense in academic jargon to be understandable, interesting or relevant to my experiences. I’ll give it another chance, but probably won’t get through much more of it. Circulation and the City, seems an easier read from its introduction, while still making important contributions to scholarship. In the introduction, the editors state the central theme of the book:
“The articles in this volume [claim that]… circulation is not simply something that happens to the city, nor is it even something that happens exclusively in the city. Rather, the city is itself constituted by circulation.”
I think what they mean by this is that one of the defining characteristics of cities is the material and intellectual connections that they create and encourage. I seem to recall Jane Jacobs expressing similar ideas in The Economy of Cities, when I read it years ago. It will be interesting to see how the other authors in this volume explore different facets of this idea.
- Pedagogy of the City, Paulo Freire, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1993.
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed: New Revised 20th Anniversary Edition, Paulo Freire, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1995.
I hadn’t heard about Freire until last Wednesday (May 26), when a guest speaker named Maeve Lydon, associate director of UVic’s Office of Community Based Research, came to my Community Mapping class. He “was a Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy,” which teaches students how to challenge forces that dominate their lives by allowing them to participate in their own education and build on their own “lived experiences.” Pedagogy of the Oppressed deals with the general theory and Pedagogy of the City deals with how Freire implemented his theories while he was education secretary in Sao Paulo. These titles fit well into my long term interest in both educational theory and reforming cities to be more human centred.
- An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, Barbara Brown Taylor, Haper Collins, 2009.
I heard about this book on CBC’s Tapestry a couple of weeks ago. It talks about how we can experience the divine in our everyday lives, in everyday places, outside formal places of worship. It’s an attractive book to me because it combines my interest in everyday lived experiences in local environments with an exploration of spiritual matters, which is something I want to learn more about.
- The Design of Future Things, Donald A. Norman, Basic Books, 2007.
I picked up this book at the library yesterday. Norman wrote The Design of Everyday Things twenty years ago, which was apparently quite popular and influential. This book deals with challenges in creating “smart” devices that actually work for and with people, rather than devices designed without considering human needs (which leads to frustration). I’m curious about how technology affects our everyday experiences, so I’ll read this and maybe go on to Norman’s earlier book if I find it to be a useful way of looking at this issue.
- Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have any suggestions for further reading? Use the comments…