In Calvino's "Invisible Cities," there are eleven categories which include different cities. What are the reasons for the names of the categories?

The categories of cities in Invisible Cities are not explicitly named after their subject matter or the specific story, but rather, they are up for interpretation and can be used to group stories together. Portfolio is a collection of student work from over the years. It was compiled by Dr. Peter Lopatin. I have been using it for several years now as a learning resource when developing new lesson plans and studying instructional practices. It provides a great deal of context on what works and what doesn't in the classroom, and has helped me design lessons with an eye toward deeper understanding of concepts. Portfolio is divided into three sections: Student Work, Teacher Notes, and Teaching Notebooks (includes rubrics).

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Italo Calvino's works are generally fabulist. Fabulism, broadly speaking, is a form of magical realism in which fantastical elements are placed in an everyday setting.

That being said, Invisible Cities is less a catalogue of cities than a reimagining of cities, or a conjuring of places which reflect and/or...

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Italo Calvino's works are generally fabulist. Fabulism, broadly speaking, is a form of magical realism in which fantastical elements are placed in an everyday setting.

That being said, Invisible Cities is less a catalogue of cities than a reimagining of cities, or a conjuring of places which reflect and/or contort certain concepts. Marco Polo is not really giving Kublai Khan a detailed account of his own empire, and the great Emperor is quite aware of this ("'Your cities do not exist'" [pg. 59]). Rather, the two men are discussing ideas and possibilities; they are creating an imagined empire, and trying to formulate a rudimentary logic of cities and places ("'I have also thought of a model city...'" [pg. 69]). The dream-like quality of the conversations only adds to a general sense of confusion, reflection, and story-telling.

It follows, then, that the category names aren't explicitly tied to the stories and their subject matter. Rather, they are up for interpretation; depending on how you see it, they can contradict, enhance, or question the stories. They can also provide a framework by which to group stories. For example, the story of Baucis ("Cities & Eyes") tells the tale of a city whose inhabits live high up on "stilts" and look down on the world "with spyglasses and telescopes" (77). 

Does the story of Baucis speak, in some way, to human vision? Are the inhabitants of Baucis purposefully myopic? How come? It is also interesting to note that the city of Phyllis, which also occurs under "Cities & Eyes," is a place where "Millions of eyes loop up at windows, bridges, capers, and they might be scanning a blank page" (91). Are the stories of Baucis and Phyillis in agreement over their treatment of sight? Or are they in conflict? The possibilities are endless. 

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