Essay 2 Assignment: Flâneurie or Dérive? Wander or Drift? You choose. Building upon Baudelaire’s (and later Benjamin’s) notion of the fâneur/flâneuse, OR on the concept and practice of the dérive as described by Guy Debord, cast yourself into an urban environment of your choice and capture the experience.
Due Friday, Feb. 11th , 5pm
Each of you should choose one or the other mode of interacting with the “city” described above and use your experience as the basis for this essay. Your essay should be about 750 words long. If you include illustrations, please write captions for each and cite where they come from.
These are some guidelines for the assignment—you may want to depart from them slightly if you wish or need to.
Plan to spend a few hours “drifting” or “wandering” through an urban space of your choice—the definition of “urban” is flexible, but in the opening paragraph of your paper explain why you chose to experience the space you chose.
The city for this paper is: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Be aware that you are inhabiting a historical subjectivity, one described by many different authors, including those whose readings I made available to you on Canvas. One dimension of reflection on your experience therefore, after you wander/drift, should be to write about the implications of the passing of time—about the changed context of your own practice, in relation to the historical subjects from whom we inherited these concepts. What do you have, or lack (technology, historical context, material conditions), that your 19th/early 20th c predecessor didn’t have, or lack? How might this shape your respective experiences differently, if at all?
Note where you go and what you do; what associations were brought up in the process? What did you notice that you didn’t expect to? How did the physical, material qualities of the city shape the possibilities of your practice? How did you perceive others observing you, and how much of a “hint,” if any, did you give them that something different from ordinary pedestrian activity was afoot? Try to be aware of other people in space, and observe your movements in relation to theirs.
In a summary passage, reflect on bodily experience as a mode of interacting with and thus knowing, or learning about, the city. Note that most of the time you perceive the city with eyes elevated several feet above the ground, with ears trained to tune out extraneous noise, with a nose and mouth that are both armed with distinct desires and prejudices, and so forth. How do these senses work together to facilitate or hinder wandering or drifting, as opposed to other modes of moving through space?
Be safe, and have fun.
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