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Writing Barcelona: reflections on city planning and urban experience, 1854-1888

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Title: Writing Barcelona: reflections on city planning and urban experience, 1854-1888
Author(s): Olivar, Jordi
Director of Research: Delgado, L. Elena
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Delgado, L. Elena
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Mendelson, Jordana; Tolliver, Joyce L.; Beckman, Ericka
Department / Program: Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Discipline: Spanish
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Ninetenth-Century Catalan Literature Spanish Literature Urban Planning Representations of the City Emili Vilanova Narcis Oller Robert Robert Lluis Rigalt Ildefons Cerda Angel Baixeras
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes the articulation and the reception of the new urban model that transformed the city of Barcelona between 1854 and 1888. Through an interdisciplinary approach that includes the analysis of literature, visual culture, and specific proposals of urban planning, I examine how the conception and the representations of public spaces generate, support or reject a meta-narrative of urban modernity based on a over rationalization of space. The new urban rationale brought forth new opportunities for financial speculation and the consolidation of the idea of the city as spectacle. In particular, I explore the ways in which some authors—Robert Robert, Emili Vilanova, and Narcís Oller among others—, artists—Lluís Rigalt—, and photographers—Franck, Puig, and Martí—reflected on the new modern articulation of space conceived in the two major urban planning proposals of the period: Ildefons Cerdà’s project of urban expansion and Àngel Baixeras’s plan of reform of the inner city. I propose that the construction of the foundations of Barcelona’s urban modernity depended on a dialectical debate between a new hegemonic conception of the urban space and a number of explicit and implicit critiques of the emerging urban rationale. This negotiation confronted two different notions of space: on the first hand, the conception of an almost aseptic space that proposed a extreme rationalization of the city based on hygienic, mathematical, and aesthetic grounds; and, on the other hand, a popular understanding of the urban milieu that reclaimed the central role of the urban practices of its citizens in the production of space. This dissertation aims at exposing the initial articulation of what has recently been called the “Barcelona model,” a plan of urban development based on the concept of the city as spectacle which has been implemented cyclically according to mandatory rites of passage like the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the 1992 Olympic Games. Ultimately, I suggest that these two apparently irreconcilable positions—the overarching plans of urban transformation and the local dissent of citizens threatened by these periodical revolutions—are not only an integral part of the modernization process but also that these two positions are fundamentally modern.
Issue Date: 2010-08-31
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/17004
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Jordi Olivar
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-08-31
2012-09-07
Date Deposited: 2010-08
 

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