The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History

1st Edition

Edited by Lieven Ameel, Jason Finch, Silja Laine, Richard Dennis


304 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367343293
pub: 2019-09-06
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The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History explores a variety of geographical and cultural contexts to examine what literary texts, grasped as material objects and as reflections on urban materialities, have to offer for urban history.

The contributing writers’ approach to literary narratives and materialities in urban history is summarized within the conceptualization ‘materiality in/of literature’: the way in which literary narratives at once refer to the material world and also actively partake in the material construction of the world. This book takes a geographically multipolar and multidisciplinary approach to discuss cities in the UK, USA, India, South Africa, Finland, and France, whilst examining a wide range of textual genres from the novel to cartoons, advertising copy, architecture and urban planning, and archaeological writing. In the process, attention is drawn to narrative complexities embedded within literary fiction and to the dialogue between narratives and historical change.

The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History has three areas of focus: literary fiction as form of urban materiality, literary narratives as social investigations of the material city, and the narrating of silenced material lives as witnessed in various narrative sources.

Table of Contents

1. Urban History and the Materialities of/in Literature

Lieven Ameel, Jason Finch, Silja Laine and Richard Dennis

Part I: Literary Fiction as Urban Materiality

2. Between the Street and the Drawing Room: Slumming in Eliot’s Early Poetry

Bo Pettersson

3. Recycling Fictions in the City: Don DeLillo and the Materiality of Waste

Markku Salmela

4. Embodied Experience of London’s Material Structures in Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor

Aleksejs Taube

5. Sensory Environments of Poverty Seen Through the Writings of Runar Schildt, Toivo Tarvas, and Elvi Sinervo

Silja Laine

6. "Quite an Aristocratic Place, Although in Whitechapel": Hospital Topographies and Margaret Harkness's Writing of London

Jason Finch

Part II: Literary Narratives as Social Investigations of the Material City

7. "The Casey Court House Builders": 1930s Children’s Comics and the Material Transformation of East London

Lucie Glasheen

8. “On the Square”: Constructing the Dangers of Depression-Era London in Ada Chesterton’s Social Investigations

Flore Janssen

9. "Would You Adam-and-Eve-It?": Geography, Materiality and Authenticity in Novels of Victorian and Edwardian London

Richard Dennis

10. The Literary Adventure of the Skyscraper in France (1893–1930): Literary Narratives and Urban Architecture Between Fiction and Reality

Julie Gimbal

Part III: Narrating Silenced Material Lives

11. The Unconfessed Architecture of Cape Town

Huda Tayob

12. Contestant City Tales: Searching for a “Literary City” Through Archaeology

Elke Rogersdotter

13. Memorialising Materiality: Narrative as Archive in Neo-Liberal Delhi

Anubhav Pradhan

About the Editors

Lieven Ameel is Senior Research Fellow at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku, Finland. Research interests include encounters in public space, city literature, urban futures, and narratives in urban planning. Orcid: 0000-0001-8072-4970

Jason Finch teaches at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He is the author or editor of six books, most recently Deep Locational Criticism (2016) and Literary Second Cities (co-edited, 2017). Research interests include: modern urban literatures, especially UK and US; theories and methodologies of space and place in literary studies.Orcid: 0000-0001-9315-6669

Silja Laine is an urban historian with a background in cultural history and landscape studies. Her research interests range from urban literature and visual culture to environmental humanities. She currently works as a post-doctoral researcher in Landscape Architecture at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland. Orcid: 0000-0001-8666-7700

Richard Dennis is Emeritus Professor of Geography at University College London. He is co-editor of Architectures of Hurry (2018), and author of Cities in Modernity (2008), as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles on 19th- and 20th-century London and Toronto, including essays on literary representations of both cities. Orcid: 0000-0003-3267-4205

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Urban History

This series showcases original and exciting new work in urban history. It publishes books that challenge existing assumptions about the history of cities, apply new theoretical frames to the urban past and open up new avenues of historical enquiry. The scope of the series is global, and it covers all time periods from the ancient to the modern worlds.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Historical Geography
HISTORY / Social History