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Free Content Comics art and urban cultural studies method through Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012)

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This concise editorial explores the current disciplinary gaps between geographical and humanities analyses of cultural production through consideration of a specific example. American comics artist Chris Ware’s Building Stories, considered a masterpiece of comics art, has attracted attention from both humanists and geographers on account of its urban theme and its intriguing architectural form. This interest raises two sets of questions for a proper cultural studies analysis. First, to what degree are humanities scholars approaching the work without attending to geographical issues of space/place that inevitably figure into its architectural form? And second, to what degree are geographers approaching the work without addressing the humanities issues of artistry and representation that figure into its comics form? Surveying the criticism on this work may provide some initial answers to these questions and in the process speak to larger issues of interdisciplinary research in urban cultural studies.
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Keywords: Chris Ware; comics form; cultural production; geo-humanities; interdisciplinarity; space/place; urban culture

Document Type: Editorial

Affiliations: East Carolina University

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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