4th HLCN symposium

Today, the 4th Helsinki Literature and the City Network symposium. Keywords: post-apocalyptic city; urban wilderness and postmodern spatial poetics; city as public space; epiphany; literature and the peripheral city; literary second cities. More here; programme below.

10.15   Welcome Address

10.30-11.30     Petter Skult (Åbo Akademi): ”Periphery versus Centre in the Post-Apocalyptic City”

Sarianna Kankkunen (University of Helsinki): “Urban Wilderness, the City and the Self: Postmodern Spatial Poetics in Maarit Verronen’s Prose Fiction”

11.30 -12.30    Theory Reading

Turmel, Patrick: “The City as Public Space”

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: “Production of Presence” (chapters 6-9)

Turmel, Patrick: ‘city as public space’

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: ‘Epiphany Presentification Deixis’

12.30-13.45     Lunch Break

14.00-15.30   Literary Second Cities –conference (Åbo Akademi 2015) meeting

Literature and the Peripheral City editorial board meeting

Narratives in Urban Studies and Planning

Today teaching a guest lecture at Aalto University on narratives in Urban Studies and Planning. Quotes of the day:

“… not only do narratives matter in planning, but their centrality is not sufficiently examined or taught, and their premises and implicit causal links are not adequately subjected to scrutiny.” (Isserman & Markusen, 2013)

“Finally, we should extract from other fields of study what is useful about the concept of narrative and the use of storytelling as a presentation and teaching device. We were shocked to find so little concerted planning literature acknowledging the power of narratives and their ubiquitous (but implicit) presence in planning discourse and practice. … Will planning finally pay attention to its own rhetoric? Will regional science move beyond tools to imagine and conscientiously construct narratives?” (Isserman & Markusen, 2013)

Isserman, Noah, & Markusen, Ann. (2013). “Shaping the Future through Narrative The Third Sector, Arts and Culture.” International Regional Science Review, 36(1), 115-136.

Narrative Planning in Helsinki’s Waterfront Regeneration

Today, I presented a paper at the BIC Urban Fragmentation(s) conference in Berlin. I spoke on the subject of “Narrative Planning in Helsinki’s Waterfront Regeneration: New Directions in Planning Practices and Theory”, which is part of my broader research project (see more here.)

Thanks for everyone commenting and contributing to the lively discussion, and to the organizers of the BIC 2015 conference for bringing together an inspiring, multidisciplinary crowd! The full programme of the conference can be found here (pdf).

On Revisiting Splintering Urbanism

Today at Berlin’s BIC 2015 conference: Timothy Moss on revisiting “Splintering Urbanism” (concept coined by geographers Steven Graham and Simon Marvin) – is there a continuous “modern infrastructure ideal” and/or its breakdown? And what are the consequences? Important talk on infrastructures within cities and their fragmentation, and illlustrating the extent to which infrastructures are society-shaping and socially shaped.

Full programme here > http://bic2015.de/workspace/downloads/conference-program-bic_-150312-5501ca5417a4c.pdf

Literature and the Peripheral City

“Literature and the Peripheral City”, editors Lieven Ameel, Jason Finch, and Markku Salmela, and soon to be published by Palgrave, can now be pre-ordered here:

Ameel et al

An inspiring, two-year project is drawing to a close. Heart-felt thanks to all contributors, to everyone at Palgrave, and to my terrific co-editors!



Introduction: Peripherality and Literary Urban Studies; Lieven Ameel, Jason Finch and Markku Salmela

1. Detroit and Paris, Paris as Detroit; Jeremy Tambling
2. ‘It’s Six A.M. Do You Know Where You Are?’ Urban Peripherality and the Narrative Framing of Literary Beginnings; Lieven Ameel
3. The Peripheries of London Slumland in George Gissing and Alexander Baron; Jason Finch
4. A Topography of Refuse: Waste, the Suburb, and Pynchon’s ‘Low-lands’; Markku Salmela
5. London’s East End in Peter Ackroyd’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem; Aleksejs Taube
6. The Configuration of Boundaries and Peripheries in Johannesburg as Represented in Selected Works by Ivan Vladislavic and Zakes Mda; Marita Wenzel

7. Hungry and Alone: The Topography of Everyday Life in Knut Hamsun and August Strindberg; Tone Selboe
8. A Forest on the Edge of Helsinki: Spatiality in Henrika Ringbom’s Novel Martina Dagers langtan; Topi Lappalainen
9. Eduard Vilde and Tallinn’s Dynamic Peripheries, 1858-1903; Elle-Mari Talivee and Jason Finch
10. A Suburban Revision of Nostalgia: The Case of Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra; Bieke Willem
11. From Windowsill to Underpass: Young Women’s Spatial Orientation in Swedish Young Adult Literature; Lydia Wistisen
12. Centrifugal City: Centre and Periphery in Ricardo Piglia’s La ciudad ausente; Nettah Yoeli-Rimmer



Urban Fragmentation(s), Berlin, March 16–19, 2015

I’ll be presenting a paper at the Urban Fragmentation(s) conference in Berlin, March 16–19, 2015. Promising conference, on the crossroads between linguistics, urban studies, sociology, and literary studies.

I will speak on the subject of “Narrative Planning in Helsinki’s Waterfront Regeneration: New Directions in Planning Practices and Theory.” Part of my broader research, which is presented (in brief) here.

Below, the abstract of the conference; the program can be found here (pdf).

“The Centers for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (GWZ) will jointly host the 3rd Borders & Identity conference (BIC) from March 16th to 19th, 2015, at the Humboldt University in Berlin (Germany). BIC2015 provides a meeting place for researchers interested in interdisciplinary approaches to exploring Urban Fragmentation(s) from linguistic, literary, sociological, and historical points of view, or a combination thereof. The conference will be organized in three parallel strands, each chaired by a corresponding GWZ-center (ZAS, Center for General Linguistics; ZfL, Center for Literary and Cultural Research; ZMO, Center for Modern Oriental Studies):

  1. Literature & Translation (ZfL)
  2. Language & Linguistic Creativity (ZAS)
  3. Society & Governance (ZMO)” (source: http://bic2015.de/)

Narratives that Form the City

In today’s Finland-Swedish national daily Hufvudstadsbladet (10.3.2015), there’s a long article on my research on narratives in city planning, under the title “Berättelserna som formar staden” – “Narratives that form the city”. ameel-berättelserna

My main point – which is explored, of course, at more depth in my research – is that planning is a form of communication, in which narrative structures form crucial construction blocks. An analysis that draws on concepts and frameworks from literary studies can thus provide new insights in the ways in which new urban developments are constructed. This goes beyond an interest in mere branding: my contention is that narratives guide and structure not only the conception of planning project, but also the construction on the ground, in particular in the form of narratives in legally binding planning documents. More on my research project here.