The Feel of the City
Experiences of Urban Transformation
University of Toronto Press 2014
Nicolas Kenny‘s new book, The Feel of the City: Experiences of Urban Transformation (University of Toronto Press, 2014) explores the sensory histories and urban development of Montreal and Brussels from the 1880s to 1914. We’ve read about Paris, London, New York, and Berlin, but what of the middle-sized cities in Europe and North America where so many turn-of-the-century dwellers saw, smelled, heard, touched, and tasted their way through urban life? What did it feel like to live in Montreal and Brussels, to walk their streets, to work in their sites of industry and production, to seek refuge in their domestic spaces?
A model of transnational scholarship, The Feel of the City moves from discussion of panoramic and labyrinthine images of the city, to the analysis of sources revealing the ways inhabitants across the social landscape experienced work, home, and the street. In our conversation, Nicolas and I talk about how contemporaries and scholars grapple with this contested term. We also take on ideas about the body and affect, gender and class, the impact of linguistic difference in representations of urban life, and even a recent controversy regarding noise and flight paths over Brussels today. Have a listen…