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Communicating the City

Meanings, Practices, Interactions

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Edited By Giorgia Aiello, Matteo Tarantino and Kate Oakley

How human meanings, practices and interactions produce and are produced by urban space is the focus of this timely and exciting addition to the study of urban communication.

Challenging notions of the ‘urban’ as physically, economically or technologically determined, this book explores key intersections of discourse, materiality, technology, mobility, identity and inequality in acts of communication across urban and urbanizing contexts. From leisure and media consumption among Chinese migrant workers in a Guangdong village to the diverse networks and communication infrastructures of global cities like London and Los Angeles, this collection combines a range of perspectives to ask fundamental questions about the significance and status of cities in times of intensified mediation and connectivity.

With case studies from Italy, Britain, Ireland, Russia, the United States and China, this international collection demonstrates that both empirical and critical knowledge on the relationship between communication and urban life has become vital across the humanities and social sciences.

Communicating the City will be essential reading for all scholars and students who desire to gain an in-depth understanding of the multiple roles that media and communication have in lived experiences of the city.

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Chapter Four: Vedic Victorians on American Gothic’s landscape: Relocating “foreign” architecture and restoring the spatial figure of juxtaposition (Joan Faber McAlister)

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CHAPTER FOUR

Vedic Victorians ON American Gothic’s landscape

Relocating “foreign” architecture and restoring the spatial figure of juxtaposition

JOAN FABER McALISTER



INTRODUCTION

The sign welcoming visitors to Fairfield, Iowa, offers a simple graphic of architectural shapes symbolizing this small town in a rural county of the Midwestern USA. Some of the buildings etched in silhouette at its base, including the windmill, factory, and water tower, can be found in many other settlements in the region. Others—the Courthouse with clock tower, the Clarke Drug Store, and the Elks Club Grand Lodge—are particular to Fairfield, but not uncharacteristic for Middle America. However, one element of this representation of Fairfield is familiar to residents but might baffle newcomers: a squat curve near the sign’s centre. This dark hemisphere represents the “Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge” reserved for Transcendental Meditation (TM), a practice that began altering the landscape of Fairfield after nearby Parsons College became Maharishi International University in 1973 (Noel, 2010). Gradually drawing converts encompassing “a quarter to a third of the population,” TM’s spiritual rituals, alternative medicines, dietary restrictions, and building renovations have reshaped this town (Noel, 2010). Fairfield’s sign seamlessly joins its diverse structures into a fluid skyline, a decidedly urban signifier for such a small town. Yet rather than blending buildings into a cohesive city symbol, this marker might have drawn attention to strikingly different cultural styles, as does a famous painting of...

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