Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2018 - 7/31/2018

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin

FAIN: FT-260341-18

Peter Thomas L'Official
Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-9800)

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on post-1960 photographic, literary, and cinematic representations of urban ruin in the South Bronx, New York.

Urban Legends examines how a single place—the New York borough of the Bronx—came to define the concept of urban ruin to Americans and to the global imagination from the 1960s until the present day. For years, the words “South Bronx” were synonymous with civic neglect, urban destruction, and crime, and images of the borough’s ruins were used to proclaim the failures of urbanism. Yet, the same South Bronx also produced one of the most powerful artistic innovations of the past 50 years: hip-hop. Urban Legends excavates the broader cultural history of the Bronx—at once more intertwined, and more outwardly influential, than these two narratives have allowed. My central argument is that cultural representations of urban ruin have shaped not only how modern ideas about race and American built space are constructed, but also how these ideas continue to proliferate. These representations reveal deeper anxieties about the realities of what it means to live—and share—in any urban space.

Media Coverage

Boroughed Time (Review)
Author(s): Sasha Frere-Jones
Publication: Bookforum
Date: 9/1/2020
Abstract: Confronting a long tradition of projecting fantasies onto the South Bronx

Associated Products

Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin (Book)
Title: Urban Legends: The South Bronx in Representation and Ruin
Author: Peter Thomas L'Official
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: WorldCat entry (674238079)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 674238079