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The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  31 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Elizabeth Wilson's elegant, provocative, and scholarly study uses fiction, essays, film, and art, as well as history and sociology, to look at some of the world's greatest cities—London, Paris, Moscow, New York, Chicago, Lusaka, and São Paulo—and presents a powerful critique of utopian planning, anti-urbanism, postmodernism, and traditional architecture. For women the city ...more
Paperback, 191 pages
Published March 10th 1992 by University of California Press (first published February 9th 1992)
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I wish I’d had access to this book when I was writing my undergraduate dissertation, seven years ago. It has very interesting things to say about utopianism within planning and the model industrial town movement, which was my dissertation topic. Better late than never, though. ‘Sphinx in the City’ is a wide-ranging and accessibly written study of women’s place in the city over time and in different countries. Of particular note, it conveys an intersectional feminism. Women are not considered to ...more
I'm having a hard time coming up with a concise review of this book. Mostly I see this as a starting point - thanks to this book I now have a bunch of little scribbled notes with quotes I like, concepts to investigate further, other authors and books to read. One of those quotes from the concluding chapter, which gives an idea of the author's viewpoint:

"We will never solve the problems of cities unless we like the urban-ness of urban life. Cities aren't villages; they aren't machines; they aren'
Killian Walsh
Wilson offers some keen insight into the character and design of urban spaces, but she too often digresses into polemic, or allows her subject matter to be overrun with hyperbole and a generally reductive feminist extremism. This oftentimes startling change of gears hampers an otherwise compelling look into the role of women in urban development, and forces the work to become little more than a biased rant.
Candy Wood
Elizabeth Wilson's city is London, but she also considers other major Western cities and some in Latin America and Africa as well. She notes that modernist women writers like Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson liked cities, not finding them as threatening and alienating as many of their male contemporaries. She concludes that cities should celebrate diversity "for all, not just the few."
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Elizabeth Wilson is the CEO and President of EW & Associates, Inc. Her management portfolio with exceeds over two million dollars to develop small businesses and includes initiatives funded by the Ebay Foundation, Hewlett Packard Philanthropy and the Prudential Foundation.\r
Elizabeth is a true expert in low and moderate community economic development. Since 1996, she has provided professiona
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“We who live here wear this corner of the city like a comfortable old coat, an extension of our personalities, threadbare yet retaining a beauty of its own.” 2 likes
“We will never solve the problems of cities unless we like the urban-ness of urban life. Cities aren't villages; they aren't machines; they aren't works of art; and they aren't telecommunications stations. They are spaces for face to face contact of amazing variety and richness. They are spectacle - and what is wrong with that?” 1 likes
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