1st Edition

Reflecting on the City Through Literature Urban Spaces, Differences and Embodiments

By Daan Wesselman Copyright 2024

    This book develops and demonstrates an interdisciplinary method that reads literary works as a way of thinking about the city. Literary works do not only provide reflections of the city – depictions of the city as an aesthetically compelling setting – but the literary reflection of the city also offers a critical reflection on the city.

    How can spatial difference be conceived in cities that are changing beyond the form of the classical modern metropolis of the early 20th century? How can one think of the relation between individual urban subjects and their urban environment, when neither spaces nor discourses of the city provide them with an answer to the question where they might "belong"? How does the human body interact with its urban surroundings, and how should technological mediations be thought of? This book approaches these questions through analysing literary texts, focusing on concepts like heterotopia, non-place and the posthuman.

    This book will be of interest to interdisciplinary scholars and students of the city, particularly in the fields of Urban Studies, Literary Studies, Geography, and Architecture.

    1. Introduction: Reflections of the city, reflections on the city

    2. Spatialities, differences and practices: "The Balloon" and City of Glass

    3. Beyond the Negative: Non-location and The Crying of Lot 49

    4. Bodies in Urban Space: Cosmopolis

    5. Conclusion: Narrativity and the City

    Works cited


    Daan Wesselman is a lecturer in Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. As a researcher affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, his focus is on finding common ground between the humanities and urban studies. He writes about concepts such as heterotopia, nonplace, and the posthuman as a means of understanding postindustrial urban redevelopment and the material-discursive interfaces between the body, the city, and everyday life. He has recently co-edited the volume Heterotopia and Globalisation in the Twenty-First Century (2020), and his work appears in Space and Culture and several edited books.