From the Bomb to the Crash: Geographies of Disaster in the American Century” brings the methodologies of cultural geography and political economy together with the techniques of literary, semiotic, and rhetorical analysis in order to draw a new history of American cities from archival sources. Our raw material is the space of the city itself: how the urban sites of Philadelphia and New York have changed as a result of the rhetoric of crisis surrounding the nuclear threat during the 1945-89 period and the financial collapse in the 1974-2014 period. As literary scholars, we work in two particularly abstract fields: Cold War nuclear studies, and finance capital theory. “From the Bomb to the Crash” demonstrates the ways in which these fundamentally abstract discourses have materially affected American life.
Through case studies of urban redevelopment in Philadelphia and New York, we show how the language of crisis recreated the landscape of America’s cities in the twentieth century, inequitably impacting along axes of class and race. Concomitant with our interest in materiality, and with our desire to produce innovative work in the public humanities, we are presenting the results of our research as a curated exhibition in Philadelphia, composed of images and text drawn from our archival findings.
The Green Line Cafe /// 4239 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104 /// September 5th-30th, 2014