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Vicarious vertigo: the emotional experience of height in the science fiction city

Butt, A. (2018) Vicarious vertigo: the emotional experience of height in the science fiction city. Emotion, Space and Society, 28. pp. 114-121. ISSN 17554586

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2017.04.001


In the light of the rapid proliferation of high-rise urbanism, can the science-fiction (sf) cities of an imagined future provide an insight into the emotional impact of those currently under construction? This paper builds on the call from within urban studies for greater scholarship into vertical urbanism through the common ground of sf, to reflect on the emotional affect of building high. The emotional implications of living at height are most strongly felt through the experience of vertigo, a fundamental human response to our embodied sense of self within our environment overlaid with potent emotional connotations. This paper focuses on two sf texts; Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside (1971) and JG Ballard’s High Rise (1976), where the reader is prompted to both empathetically engage and imaginatively enact the experience of vertigo. The critical estrangement of these novels allows the emotional impact of vertigo on the imagined inhabitants to be critically appreciated alongside the personal experiences of the reader. They provide a space to reflect on the cities we already inhabit, and reveal the importance of attending to the emotional affect of built environment to establish a sense of place in this new vertical world.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Architecture
Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
ID Code:79101


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