Of Architecture and Hope: The Citadel Theatre of Edmonton and the Cruel Optimism of a Bygone Petroleum Age explores how one of the largest theaters built in North America in the twentieth century represents a form of petroleum-driven “cruel optimism,” a concept introduced by Lauren Berlant. Drawing upon a wide range of primary sources from the City of Edmonton Archives, the Provincial Archives of Alberta, the University of Alberta Archives, and the private archives of the family of theater cofounder Joe Shoctor, Banafsheh Mohammadi provides a detailed analysis of the design and materials of the Citadel Theatre as a means of examining how they exemplify a distinctive twentieth-century form of petroleum-based aesthetics.

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