June 2021

Elisabeth Haefs is reading Greening Cities, Growing Communities by Jeffrey Hou, Julie M. Johnson, and Laura J. Lawson. Originally an overview of Seattle's urban community gardens, this book provides valuable general insights concerning the functioning of community gardens in urban surroundings. The question of permanence in the form of sustaining urban community gardens is of central importance in the authors' approach, as is the web of relationships that influence a gardening community – from planning and design entities to the neighbourhood communities that carry out the physical part of gardening. This contribution to the vast amount of research on community gardens is slightly unusual in its delicately balanced approach: The authors neither praise community gardens as a universal remedy for urban ills, nor do they cynically denounce the very real potential of gardening together and creating new communities in the city – the "potential to promote individual and community activity, connection, expression, and health in the urban environment" (5).

Florian Deckers is currently reading Street Art – Legenden zur Strasse (2009) edited by Katrin Klitzke and Christian Schmidt. In this volume, that is beautifully supplemented with numerous pictures of street art in Berlin, scholars and authors from various fields such as art history, sociology, geography, or anthropology offer their perspectives on the urban phenomenon of street art. Annika Lorenz, for example, in her contribution traces the history of street art back to prior art forms on the basis of, on the one hand, methods and medium and, on the other hand, what could be described as intertextual references or “aesthetic quotes” (34) she identified in works of street artists. She thus creates a strong argument that street art is not only entering a reciprocal relationship with its space, but that it also needs to be understood historically

Our Past Reading
Prof. Dr. Josef Raab passed away on November 10, 2019 after a long battle against terminal illness. / © L. Raab

Thank you,

to our colleague, advisor, and mentor Josef Raab, who sadly passed away last weekend after a long and brave battle against terminal illness. Josef Raab was the chair of American Literary and Media Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He paved the way for the discipline of Inter-American Studies, significantly shaping its core debates. As a champion and supporter of the Ruhr Center for American Studies, he was also a pivotal figure for the establishment of our City Scripts research group. Josef Raab was a fighter of the good fight, never shy of supporting his students and of positively endorsing as well as tackling his colleagues. He never eschewed an argument he believed in. While he had to take a step back from in-person participation in recent months due to his illness, he was with us in thought and during our research. We lose a professor and mentor, who has accompanied and supported some of us since our bachelor’s degree, a colleague, who challenged us in academic discussions, and most of all a sincere and warm human soul.

All that is left for us to say now is, thank you and safe travels.