Melville and Mumford; or, the Art of Rediscovery in Traumatic Times


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project juxtaposes the careers of Herman Melville and Lewis Mumford, pivoting on Mumford’s influential biography of Melville. Mumford, an urban theorist and historian of technology, used his obsession with Melville and his commitment to retrospection to cope with what he thought of as the traumas of modernity, and to rediscover old ways of working creatively with the spaces of urban industrialism. Focusing on Mumford’s work during the decades of the Melville revival, from 1920 to 1950, but incorporating regular flashbacks to Melville’s era, this intellectual history gives readers the opportunity to get deep inside the heads of both main characters. The retrospective work of this book also allows readers to confront some of the modern realities that still shape contemporary life.