Finalizing a chapter on the city novel as genre – what distinguishes the city novel?
Drawing on Daniel Acke, Burton Pike, Hana Wirth-Nesher, Bart Keunen, and others – one important reference point is also the preface to Rodenbach’s Bruges-la-morte:
“Voilà ce que nous avons souhaité de suggérer: la Ville orientant une action; ses paysages urbains, non plus seulement comme des toiles de fond, comme des thèmes descriptifs un peu arbitrairement choisis, mais liés à l’événement même du livre.”
“The conception to which I have striven to give a certain embodiment is that of the influence exerted by a town in the whole character of its details, which are therefore indefinably linked to all the incidents contained in the narrative.”
Rodenbach, Georges 1892/1903: Bruges-la-Morte. Translated by Thomas Duncan. London: Swan Sonnenschein & co.
Not the city as character, then (although Rodenbach refers to that, too), but the city as presence and influence.
Today 13.1.2016 I’m at the Tampere University of Technology, Department of Architecture, for my Docent Lecture.
The subject of my lecture is: “Narrative Frames as Methodology in Urban Planning Theory: Traces of Utopia and the Bildungsroman in Contemporary Planning”
Part of my ongoing research concerning narratives in planning, with several upcoming publications.
Note: the term “docent” in the context of the Finnish academy is a title, not entirely dissimilar to Adjunct Professor or the German Privatdozent.