The Iconic-Indexical City: Visions of Place in Urban Films

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the previous chapter, we saw how Lefebvre’s hallmark urban thinking blends with textual criticism as one possible direction of an urban cultural studies method. Such criticism, of course, is also explained by Raymond Williams as that which gives equal weight to the project (art) and the formation (society); and by Jakobson and the Russian Formalists as that which folds the literary back into the extraliterary (through the notion of “the [reconfigured, urban] dominant”). Following logically from discussion of an “urban dominant” that serves to preserve the nuanced “literariness” or artistic value of texts while reading them in relation to the complexities of urban/urbanized society, this chapter turns specifically to film in order to construct a similar argument. In a sense, the interdisciplinary links between film studies and geographical approaches have perhaps been somewhat more fruitful than the intersection of literary study and spatial theory. This chapter thus offers—in part—an explanation of why that may be the case. It explores what the potential pitfalls of geographical takes on film are and, most importantly, how film theory can be better harnessed in future interdisciplinary approaches to the city in cinema. This is not intended to be an exhaustive take on the matter, but rather merely one more push toward thorough collaboration between the humanities and the social sciences on artistic matters in urban contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHispanic Urban Studies
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameHispanic Urban Studies
ISSN (Print)2662-5830
ISSN (Electronic)2662-5849


  • Film Text
  • Film Theory
  • Human Story
  • Human Tragedy
  • Secondary Character

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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