Once upon Two Cities

There is an old fable about a mouse who claimed to be able to compete with an elephant. At first sight, the mere idea of a comparison between Bucharest and New York City seems as preposterous as the pretense of that old mouse. Yet, this book shows how the two cities appealed to people’s senses and how this feeling was mediated by guidebooks, cookbooks, conduct manuals, music, and films. It is about how people lived and how they enjoyed life. It is a glimpse of people hustling, crowding, and walking at leisure. It shows how they saw the two cities and how they talked about them. It explains what each of the cities was generally considered to look like and what they were shown to look like: not so much what people’s lives were, but what they seemed to have been; not how people behaved, but how they were taught to behave; not what they ate, but what they must have eaten; not all the “partitions” of the music in the cities, but those few icons and “scores” which were supposed to appeal, first and foremost, to the middle class. It is a book about images: word images, fictional images, visual images, auditory images. And it is also a book about urban and rural imaginaries. This is a book about two cities in search of their identities. In all these respects, the world metropolis and the small European capital city could stand side by side. In all these respects, they could justifiably be compared.

Uncovering New Ground for American Nature Writing: Discourses of Natural History from John Bartram to Wilson Flagg

Situating the work of John Bartram, Peter Kalm, John Davidson Godman, and Thomas Wilson Flagg at an exciting intersection between natural history and aesthetics, this study argues for the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century origins of the North American tradition of environmental thought. The work of these authors contains profound attentiveness to the wonder and beauty of nonhuman nature at a culturally significant period in the nation’s history. Lu offers thorough explorations and examinations of the connections between natural history discourses, close observations of nature, and sustainability and conservation ethics, tracing the ways in which the writing of Bartram, Kalm, Godman and Flagg anticipates twentieth-century American conservation thinking. One of the distinctive features of Uncovering New Ground for American Nature Writing is its attention to under-scrutinized authors, such as Flagg, and the descriptive power of his writings. The prose writing treated in this book is scientifically and aesthetically valuable and influential, because of its devotion to the discovery of plants, trees, and wildlife combined with a literary language. The four authors analysed in this book make far-reaching connections between a vast number of nonhuman inhabitants and their environment in North America.

The Fires of Adversity in Latin America: Neoliberalism, Globalization, and Free Trade

In a world that is toying with neo-fascist tendencies, Latin America’s painful experience with fascist military governments and North American corporate capitalism should be a red flag. From 1954 to 2005, Latin America underwent social, economic, and environmental upheaval brought about by neoliberalism’s preference for North American corporate control of Latin American sovereignty. Latin American dictatorships spelled out stable platforms for North American corporations by deregulation and privatization of public wealth. They also increased corporate profits. This book presents nine different articles on the fires of adversity that the Latin American public endured at the hands of North American corporations: the military coups the corporates scripted, the death squads that Operation Condor sanctioned, and the massive pollution of the Amazon by North American extraction of oil and minerals. These corporations bought political influence and decision-making. The unfettered growth of corporate interests worked counter to the interests and well-being of the Latin American public. By 2005, the Latin American nations soundly rejected the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). Their experience of the reign of corporate money on the Latin American society was not only a form of neocolonialism, but it also provoked unsustainable social upheaval, inequality, and toxic pollution by corporate dumping.