Fleeting Cities is a rich and incisive cultural history that reads imperial expositions held in fin-de-siècle London, Paris and Berlin as interconnected sites of urban modernity
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Shortlisted for the Longman - History Today Book Prize 2010
"If I were to recommend only one book about nineteenth- and early twentieth-century international expositions, it would be this one. Geppert's writing is clear, his learning is massive but never in the way, and his subject – the spaces and places of world's fairs – becomes in his hands a way of thinking about the self-reflexive and self-referential qualities of modernity. Fleeting Cities is an exemplary cultural and institutional history of one of the most talked about, glitzy new media phenomena of their age." - Thomas W. Laqueur, University of California, Berkeley, USA
" Fleeting Cities vividly and authoritatively demonstrates how European exhibitions formed an integral part of the material and mental urban environment which they helped to shape. It is a model of transnational, comparative history, attentive to the architectural grammar, social imaginaries, and political histories of these urban installations." - Judith R. Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University, USA
"A careful reading of the complex history of international exhibitions. As a social theorist, the author presents a brilliant analysis of the writings of Georg Simmel, the German cultural philosopher, on exhibitions, as well as his confrontation with Wilhelm II on the subject of exhibitions and the German cultural and national ideology." - Aram A.Yengoyan, University of California, Davis, USA
"Geppert has succeeded in writing five worthwhile, brilliant essays on five 'late' major exhibitions held in the European metropoles, all based on a commanding knowledge of his sources and the (by now rampant) secondary literature." - Daniel Mollenhauer, Sehepunkte
"This is an important and ambitious study which will serve as a valuable resource of reference for future students of the subject. It is extremely well illustrated and supported with plenty of useful graphs, appendices, and an extensive bibliography." - Jill Steward, H-Net Reviews
"A successful Gesamtkunstwerk and a pleasure to read." - Klaus Dittrich, Comparativ
"Geppert has elegantly fathomed and brought new perspectives to the subject of international exhibitions. He has succeeded in producing an enormously stimulating contribution to a transnational history of modernity in the age of metropoles." - Martin Baumeister, Historische Zeitschrift
"Can an author move forward the theoretical discussion? In the case of Alexander C. T. Geppert's Fleeting Cities, the answer to those queries is yes. This book breaks new ground . . . Geppert throws down the scholarly gauntlet on his book's first page . . . Geppert's work will . . . attract those captivated by how we study exhibitions and modernity and by the modern history of Europe's 'great' cities—specifically, Berlin, Paris, and London. He has discovered strange but true facts and things that never were . . . as well as things that were but about which we know very little, if anything. Geppert illuminates . . . [An] ambitious effort to transform network analysis . . . [A] fascinating monograph." - Peter H. Hoffenberg, The Journal of Modern History
"An admirably researched and well-written monograph that clearly indicates the subtle messages to be read beneath the glitz of these spectacular festivals. Above all, it exemplifies the insights that fresh scholarship in textual and representational analysis can bring to the study of events long recognized as landmarks in both cultural and urban history." - John R. Gold, The London Journal
"At its best, Geppert's text presents the possibility for theoretical interpretations while simultaneously undermining their reasonableness . . . The strength of Geppert's book is in highly detailed and vivid presentation of the events and their surrounding culture. Fleeting Cities is the result of painstaking first-hand research of a scope that has previously eluded any individual scholar." - Robert Proctor, Planning Perspectives
"Authoritative . . . As elsewhere, Geppert's research here is rich and probing; it adds significantly to our understanding and certainly helps correct other scholars' more speculative interpretations." – Mark Crinson, History Workshop Journal
Imperial expositions held in fin-de-siècle London, Paris and Berlin were knots in a world-wide web. Conceptualizing exhibitions as meta-media, Fleeting Cities undertakes a transdisciplinary investigation into how modernity was created and displayed, consumed and disputed within the European metropolis. Focusing on five such expositions – the Berliner Gewerbeausstellung (1896), the fifth Parisian Exposition Universelle (1900), the Franco-British Exhibition in London (1908), the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley (1924/25), and the Exposition Coloniale Internationale in Paris (1931) – this award-winning book examines their specific aims and aspirations, evolving forms and execution, and the public debates they engendered. Who shaped these mega-events, how were exposition venues inscribed into the urban fabric, what legacies did they bequeath? Taken as dense textures stretched over time, these expositions undergo both a close hermeneutic reading and broad spatial analysis. Fleeting Cities weaves extensive empirical research with underlying theoretical concerns, investigating their individual meanings in a new form of transnational network analysis.
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