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Title: Paris and the Parasite: The Politics of Noise in the Mediatic City
Authors: Smith, Michael (Macs)
Advisors: Benhaim, Andre
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: Biopolitics
Subjects: Urban planning
French literature
Multimedia communications
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the figure of the parasite as it relates to architecture and urban life in the city of Paris. Recent scholarship has argued for the application of media theoretical frameworks to urban studies on the grounds that not only do cities incorporate communication technologies into their fabric and design, but also that by transforming information cities themselves function as media. Researchers have focused on what kinds of messages the city can transmit and how, but equally important is what constitutes noise within the urban media system. The French context is interesting in this regard because noise is frequently metaphorized in the French language as a parasite, a fact that helps explain the preponderance of epidemiological vocabulary in discussions of Paris’s media environment. This dissertation argues that the parasite is an especially apt figure to explain the politics of urban noise as its three meanings (biological, social, and mediatic) capture the way the politics of urban communication is inextricable from biopolitical and sociopolitical questions of health, wholeness, and in/exclusion. APARTMENT shows how, starting in the 19th century, media technology counterintuitively contributed to the claustration of domestic spaces in the city. Intercourse between public and private space was theorized as a parasite that needed to be eliminated. WALL focuses on the building façade, showing how its mediatic function has been masked by the development of the ideology of transparency. It shows how street art, which frequently appropriates parasitic imagery in a positive way, undermines transparency and opens up the wall to illicit messages. STREET explores the politics of mapping and the various ways walking has been theorized as a challenge to the sociopolitical boundaries of the city. I show how discourses of contagion and bodily perfection feature in these practices. BODIES examines the body politics latent in invocations of parasitism, showing how the valorization of individualism and univocity in democratic politics clashes with the decentralized structure of many modern street protests. The dissertation concludes by arguing for a new hermeneutic approach to the city that doesn’t rely on the host/parasite dichotomy and the univocal model of subjectivity it implies.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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