For Raymond Williams, the disorienting ephemerality of the modern city is like the form of a film – fragmented yet appearing to flow. Through the twentieth century the evolution of the city from the site of the flaneur’s passive recordings of the “shock experience” of modernity to a space of ephemeral fluidity impacts narrative such that the very process of representing the city starts to be questioned in literature. The city becomes a space both real and irreal; existing simultaneously as a concrete place and as ephemera that allows for authorial intervention.
Whether as a place or a character, the metropolis dominates twentieth century literature – as an anthropomorphic space of the carnivalesque grotesque; as fragmented vignettes constructed through heteroglossia; as spaces of erasure reflecting the transience of memory (both national and personal); as labyrinths that act as mirrors of subjectivity and the unconscious; or as a conglomeration of mythic and real spaces where characters are constantly falling between the gaps, where art constructs art. As a result, the representation of the city becomes a means of exploring the ethos of the twentieth century.
This panel explores the evolution of the representation of the city in twentieth century Anglophone literature in order to discuss its subsequent impact on narrative. Papers on twentieth century and contemporary American, British, Anglophone literature, genre fiction, anthropology, history, and other related or interdisciplinary fields are welcome.
Abstracts of 300-500 words must be submitted through the NEMLA website. You need to create a user profile for NEMLA before submitting your proposal. Please follow this submission link: https://nemla.org/convention/2015/cfp.html#cfp15391
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