Dossier: Mediating Urban Automobility

Edited by Cortland Rankin

Cortland Rankin, Introduction: Mediating Urban Automobility

In his introduction to the dossier, Cortland Rankin considers the roles media has played in reflecting, interpreting, and shaping the relationship between automobility and urbanism.

Michael J.T. Stock, The Nest in the Shell: Postwar Automobility and Film Noir Cars

Michael Stock develops a phenomenological reading of automobility in film noir, arguing that the contradictory space of the car – “a nest within a shell” – is frequently depicted as destabilizing the family home.

Judith A. Nicholson, Automobilities in Walter Mosley’s Detective Fiction on Film

Judith Nicholson examines the importance of depictions of African American automobilities to Walter Mosley’s detective fiction and its screen adaptations.

Cortland Rankin, City of New York, No Parking Anytime: The City and the Car in Postwar City Symphony Films

Exploring three experimental city symphony films made between 1958 and 1972, Cortland Rankin looks at the fraught and shifting relationship between New York City and the car.

Erik Florin Persson & Per Vesterlund, Stuck in Traffic: Car-centric Urbanism, City Planning and the Welfare State in Swedish Commissioned Films and TV Drama from the 1960s

Erik Florin Persson and Per Vesterlund analyze how commissioned films and TV dramas both promoted and critiqued car-centric urbanism in Sweden during the 1960s.

Jemma Saunders, Screen Journeys through Birmingham: the City, the Car and the Canal

From children’s television to images of Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham has been represented as a motor city. Jemma Saunders’s video essay explores screen representations of the city and its automobile-centered identity.

Michael D. Dwyer, The Rise of the Commuter Class: Postindustrialism, Expressways, and Chicago Teen Films of the 1980s

Michael Dwyer re-examines the 1980s Chicagoland teen films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Adventures in Babysitting as commuter narratives that speak to the city’s emerging postindustrial identity.

Danielle Childs, Motels, Automobility, and Social Immobility in American Cinema

Danielle Childs explores the transformation of the motel in American cinema from a temporary pit-stop to a post-recession purgatory epitomizing marginalization and social immobility.

Lu Zeng, Cars, Careers, and Care: Automobility and Women’s Dilemmas in Chinese Urban TV Dramas

Lu Zeng untangles the complex interplay between automobility and professional women’s work-family balance in recent Chinese television drama.

Jack O’Dwyer, Hitching a Ride: Vehicular Travel in One-Take Films

Jack O’Dwyer theorizes the expressive and functional roles of car journeys in one-take films, reading these examples of audiovisual automobility in relation to risk, contingency, dead time, and emotion.

Melanie Wilmink, Vehicle for Imagination: Art and Mobility Technology in South Korea

Melanie Wilmink explores how a Seoul-based residency created by the car company Hyundai has enabled artists to interrogate the ways automobile technologies are impacting human engagement with urban environments.