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 reflections on urban materialities, have to offer for urban history.
The contributing writers’ approach to literary narratives and materialities in urban history is summarised within the conceptualisation ‘materiality in/of literature’: the way in which literary narratives at once refer to the material world and actively partake in the material construction of the world. This book takes a geographically multipolar and multidisciplinary approach to discuss cities in the UK, the US, 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
3. Recycling Fictions in the City: Don DeLillo and the Materiality of Waste
4. Embodied Experience of London’s Material Structures in Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor
5. Sensory Environments of Poverty Seen Through the Writings of Runar Schildt, Toivo Tarvas, and Elvi Sinervo
6. "Quite an Aristocratic Place, Although in Whitechapel": Hospital Topographies and Margaret Harkness's Writing of London
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
8. “On the Square”: Constructing the Dangers of Depression-Era London in Ada Chesterton’s Social Investigations
9. "Would You Adam-and-Eve-It?": Geography, Materiality and Authenticity in Novels of Victorian and Edwardian London
10. The Literary Adventure of the Skyscraper in France (1893–1930): Literary Narratives and Urban Architecture Between Fiction and Reality
Part III: Narrating Silenced Material Lives
11. The Unconfessed Architecture of Cape Town
12. City Tales in Dialogue: Vijayanagara through Travelogues and Archaeology
13. Memorialising Materiality: Narrative as Archive in Neo-Liberal Delhi
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.
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, and theories and methodologies of space and place in literary studies.
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.
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 nineteenth- and twentieth-century London and Toronto, including essays on literary representations of both cities.