Association for Literary Urban Studies

The Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS, formerly Helsinki Literature and the City Network) provides an international and interdisciplinary platform for scholars studying the city in literature. Membership is free, and all scholars working within literary urban studies are warmly invited to join the association. It welcomes approaches that examine city narratives in a broad understanding, including approaches that combine urban studies, cultural geography, urban planning, future studies, and other relevant fields with the examination of narratives of cities. It aims to foster interdisciplinary research on city literature, including literature written in all languages and encompassing all historical periods. The Association for Literary Urban Studies organizes meetings twice a year in Finland for members residing in Finland or passing through, and one international conference every two years. It aims to cooperate with other international organizations to organize international seminars, conferences and events.

ALUS news


Welcome to the general meeting of the association, which will be held Wednesday 24.1.2018 in Turku, 12-13.30. Location: to be announced.

The aims of the Association for Literary Urban Studies are to provide an international and interdisciplinary platform for scholars studying the city in literature. During the general meeting, the members of the board are elected. The posts are tenable for two year at the time, four years at the maximum. Most board members are currently at the end of their two-year tenure, so please notify us (preferably two weeks in advance) should you be interested in becoming active as board member, even if you are not able to come to the general meeting in person. All candidates for the positions will be communicated to members before the meeting, and votes vor candidates can be cast electronically by mail sent to the current board members and secretary.

During the general meeting, the aims and activities of the Association for Literary Urban Studies will be discussed and further developed.

Program (may be subject to change):

  • opening of the meeting, welcome
  • appointment of secretary of the general meeting
  • overview of activities in 2017
  • overview of the members of the board and possible changes in the board
  • planned activities in 2018 & 2019: symposium in London, possibly Stockholm, international conference in 2019
  • publishing activities; Palgrave Literary Urban Studies Series forthcoming; plans for volume (Im)Possible Cities
  • other issues
  • closing of the meeting

Please note:

We hope it would be possible to organize symposia of the association in different universities on a rotating basis. We encourage all members interested in organizing a symposium (typically with 3-6 presentations and theory reading/discussion) at their home university to contact the board (eg. Symposia will be marketed via the association’s newsletter and website. We would like to explore the possibility of joint grant applications for organizing symposia at rotating institutions, and it would be helpful to get an idea of who might be interested. ALUS co-organized a symposium in Tallinn, Estonia in Autumn 2017 and further events are planned in London and Stockholm in 2018.

Please notify the board should you want to present remarks or suggestions, and if you are not able to attend in person.



Autumn 2017 Symposium of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS)
Literature and the Multilingual City
Friday 22 September 2017, 11.00-16.00


Museum Department of the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (UTKK)
Väkese Illimari 12, 11623 Tallinn, Estonia
Organizers: Jason Finch (, Åbo Akademi University; Elle-Mari Talivee (, UTKK

11.00-12.00: welcome; presentations
– Ivo Heinloo, Tallinn University, ‘Heterotopia in Estonian Literature’
– Brief presentation of research interests: Tauri Tuvikene, Tallinn University; also Lieven Ameel, Jason Finch, Elle-Mari Talivee and possible others

12.00-13.00: discussion of theory/critical text(s) (please contact the organizers if you do not have the PDFs of these texts!):
– Jan Kaus, ‘In Front of the Estonia’
– Tiina A. Kirss, ‘The Tartu/Tallinn Dialectic in Estonian Letters and Culture’
– Tomas Venclova, ‘The “Text of Vilnius” and the “Text of Tallinn”: A Comparison’

13.00-14.00: lunch (provided for participants by UTKK)
14.00-15.00: further presentations and group discussion
– Topi Lappalainen, University of Helsinki, ‘Helsinki and Tampere in Prose Poems with a Paratextual Dimension: Galleria by Kari Aronpuro and Händelser by Henrika Ringbom’
– Ene-Reet Soovik, University of Tartu, ‘Meelis Friedenthal and The Willow King’

15.00-16.00: ALUS meeting
Details of the venue and a map:

Website (English-language version) of the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (UTKK):
Travel from Helsinki
Viking Line: Helsinki-Tallinn 08:00/09:45, Tallinn-Helsinki 18:00/20:30 (also 15:30/17:15 with Viking FSTR) / Tallink Silja: Helsinki-Tallinn 07:30/09:30, Tallinn-Helsinki 19:30/21:30 (also 16:30/18:30)
Journey from Port of Tallinn to Väikese Illimari 12 by public transport: 40-50 minutes’ journey, approximately (by taxi, 25 minutes, approximately)
The symposium is supported by the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Astra Project.

Association for Literary Urban Studies:
Please contact Lieven Ameel ( to join ALUS and receive regular newsletters

Overview of earlier activities

The HLCN’s first symposium was organized 2nd May 2012. Subsequent HLCN meetings included a theory seminar in November 2012 and a second symposium in spring 2013, hosted at the Åbo Akademi University in Turku, and further symposiums at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere (spring, autumn 2015). Most recent symposiums include the 1st ALUS symposium at the University of Tampere, 31.3.2016, and the 2nd ALUS symposium “Scaling the city” organized 2.12.2016 at Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland.

The HLCN organized its first international conference in August 2013: A second international conference, entitled Literary Second Cities, was organized in 2015 at Åbo Akademi University, Turku. The third international conference, and first ALUS conference, organized at the University of Tampere, Finland, will take place in August 2017 with as theme (Im)Possible Cities. More information here.

A collection of articles, based on the 2013 conference, has been published in spring 2015. The book, entitled Literature and the Peripheral City (Ameel, Finch & Salmela; Palgrave 2015) can be ordered here. A collection of articles, selected from papers presented at Literary Second Cities, is currently being edited, and due to be published in late 2017 with Palgrave (Finch, Ameel & Salmela 2017).

 Ameel et al

Recent activities:

(Im)Possible Cities
The First International Conference of the Association for Literary Urban Studies
23–24 August 2017
University of Tampere, Finland

In the wake of two successful international conferences under the auspices of the Helsinki Literature and the City Network, we are welcoming scholars interested in urban writing to the first international conference of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS).

This inaugural conference will be devoted to the theme of possible and impossible cities, the links between them, and the complex relationships between city imaginaries and real-world cities. The conference theme straddles a variety of fields, including literary urban studies, urban planning theory, cultural geography, and future studies. The two keynote speakers of the conference are Ayona Datta (King’s College London) and Eric Prieto (University of California, Santa Barbara).

The conference will take place in Tampere back to back, and in collaboration, with another urban studies conference, Re-City 2017 (24-25 August). This allows guests to participate in both conferences (i.e., two days in one, one day in the other; both conferences allow one-day registration). Please note that the two conferences will share the theme of (im)possible cities. Re-City 2017’s confirmed keynote speaker for 25 August is David Pinder (Roskilde University).


For more information: contact lieven.ameel [a]

3rd ALUS symposium – “Urban Space in Postmodern Literature”, Helsinki, Friday 19.5.2017

Welcome to the third symposium of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (former HLCN), with as theme “Urban Space in Postmodern Literature”

The one-day symposium will be held at the University of Helsinki, Friday 19 May 2017. Time and place: 10h-15h; place: Metsätalo, Sali 9.

The symposium will offer a meeting where researchers can present ongoing work related to city literature, as well as a theory reading. Anyone interested in urban literary studies is most welcome to participate. Please do sign up if you intend to participate, and/or send a short abstract outlining current research if you would like to present research (by mail to as soon as possible, but at the latest by 10.5.2017.

Provisional program outline:

10-11.30: welcome, presentations
11.30-12.30 lunch break

12.30-14.00 Discussion and theory reading – concepts in literary urban studies

14.00-15.00 closed Association for Literary Urban Studies meeting – editorial meeting & conference 2017