What We Are Reading Today: Changing Places

Updated 03 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Changing Places

Authors: John MacDonald, Charles Branas, and Robert Stokes

The design of every aspect of the urban landscape —from streets and sidewalks to green spaces, mass transit, and housing — fundamentally influences the health and safety of the communities who live there. It can affect people’s stress levels and determine whether they walk or drive, the quality of the air they breathe, and how free they are from crime. Changing Places provides a compelling look at the new science and art of urban planning, showing how scientists, planners, and citizens can work together to reshape city life in measurably positive ways, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.
Drawing on the latest research in city planning, economics, criminology, public health, and other fields, Changing Places demonstrates how well-designed changes to place can significantly improve the well-being of large groups of people.
The book argues that there is a disconnect between those who implement place-based changes, such as planners and developers, and the urban scientists who are now able to rigorously evaluate these changes through testing and experimentation.


What We Are Reading Today: Good Form by Jesse Rosenthal

Updated 14 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Good Form by Jesse Rosenthal

  • For most, Victorian moralizing is one of the period’s least attractive and interesting qualities

What do we mean when we say that a novel’s conclusion “feels right”? How did feeling, form, and the sense of right and wrong get mixed up, during the 19th century, in the experience of reading a novel? 

Good Form argues that Victorian readers associated the feeling of narrative form — of being pulled forward to a satisfying conclusion —with inner moral experience, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Reclaiming the work of a generation of Victorian ‘intuitionist’ philosophers who insisted that true morality consisted in being able to feel or intuit the morally good, Jesse Rosenthal shows that when Victorians discussed the moral dimensions of reading novels, they were also subtly discussing the genre’s formal properties.

For most, Victorian moralizing is one of the period’s least attractive and interesting qualities. But Good Form argues that the moral interpretation of novel experience was essential in the development of the novel form — and that this moral approach is still a fundamental, if unrecognized, part of how we understand novels.