The Health of Cities: MMLA, Detroit, Nov 13-16, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Emily Waples / MMLA
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From Thomas Jefferson's early condemnation of cities as detrimental to the moral and physical well-being of the American body politic, to contemporary ecocritical considerations of the environmental risks of urban space, cities have long been implicated in discourses of sickness and health. Recent works such as Julie Sze's Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice (2007) and Simon Finger's The Contagious City: The Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia (2011) explore the historical rhetoric of contagion and contamination for urban populations in the United States. Building from these intersections of cultural studies, ecocriticism, and the history of public health, this panel seeks to interrogate the connection between cities and sickness. In what ways and to what ends have cities—particularly after John Snow's 1854 medico-cartographical project mapped the spread of cholera across London—been subject to epidemiological scrutiny? What demographics have been targeted and impacted by urban public health initiatives, and in what ways? How have factors including race, gender, and sexuality contributed to critical assessments of the health of citites? This panel is interested both in literal manifestations of urban public health initiatives, and—particularly given MMLA's 2014 location in Detroit—in the metaphorical language of illness, health, and recuperation applied to the "sick" or "ailing" city.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Emily Waples ( by June 15,