“Peopling Urban Futures” – Master class and invited talk at UPEM, Paris, 11-12.2.2020

On my way to Paris for a master class and seminar on future cities. Looking forward to meet colleagues and students at the University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallee. I’ll be talking about the affordances of literature for imagining future cities – what does fiction do differently when compared with policy and planning?

Excited to get in touch with the team of PARVIS at UPEM, a project which “consists in studying representations of the future city, in order to identify the multifaceted futuristic urban imaginaries, particularly in terms of climate change.” The PARVIS research project shares a number of close research interests with my own current project “Imagining City Futures” – looking forward to learn more and to collaborate. Thanks to prof. Irene Langlet for putting this together!

Master class title: ”Peopling Urban Futures” (11.2.2020)

Invited talk title: « Imaginer les villes futures à travers les discours : Affordances de la fiction littéraire, de l’aménagement et de la politique » (12.2.2020)


Programme (in French)

Paroles de villes 1: Approches / journée d’études


9H30 – 10H Accueil (café, thé)

10H Introduction de la journée d’étude

Session 1 : A l’intersection des discours urbains et écologiques

Lieven Ameel: « Imaginer les villes futures à travers les discours : Affordances de la fiction littéraire, de l’aménagement et de la politique »

Pierre Schoentjes: « Le changement c’est quand ? Littérature et écologie »

11H40 >12H Pause

Session 2 : Bidonvilles en France, récits par l’image

Pascale Joffroy et Jacques Ippoliti, Groupe Parvis “Slumcity”

12H45>14H Déjeuner

Session 3 : Cadrage générique

Nadège Pérelle : « Fictions climatiques : cartographie des genres »

Irène Langlet: « Fictions climatiques, fictions urbaines, science-fiction : tentative de relevé de terrain(s) »

15H20>15H40 Pause

Session 4 : Paroles citoyennes et imaginaires urbains

Un représentant.e du CTC national (Collectif pour une Transition Citoyenne) et un.e représentant.e de l’Institut des Futurs Souhaitables.

16H20>16H30 Pause

Session 5 : Atelier PARVIS – Groupe “Modele”

Catherine Dominguès à propos du corpus soumis au Traitement Automatique des Langues

17H Mot de conclusion


Hope for the Future

(Future Turku / source: https://www.turku.fi/blogit/kohti-vuotta-2029/tulevaisuuspaivaa-turusta)

This spring I’m teaching a course on Hope in Future Narratives at the University of Turku. At the background of this course is a sense, undoubtedly familiar to many, that we live in a particularly future-oriented era, in which knowing the future has become something a of a moral imperative, a time in which we are individually and collectively urged to make decisions and take action based largely on future projections.

At the same time, many of the future visions were are confronted with – in media, policy texts, literature, and everyday modes of storytelling – are distinctly pessimistic, to the extent that their gloominess may impact on our sense of possible agency. Hence, a.o. recent calls for more “hopeful” visions of the future, or for the examinations of seed of hopefulness in the way current media and other narratives project possible worlds.

The aim of my course is to examine questions of hope and agency in literary (and other) narratives that are set in future or alternative storyworlds. How are such storyworlds structured? What rhetoric and narrative structures are put into play to convey hope, agency, or trajectories towards desirable or possible alternative futures?

As our opening discussions during the first lecture made clear, the subject of the course resonated with a number of students, with environmental anxiety one obvious point of reference, but also a more broadly felt sense of the need to be able to discuss and project possible alternative worlds.

Below, the readings for the course – all thoughts more than welcome!

Hope in Future Literature – From Golden Age Utopias to Contemporary Climate Fiction

[Toivoa tulevaisuudesta. Kaunokirjalliset tulevaisuusvisiot utopian kultakaudesta ilmastofiktioon]

University of Turku, Finland / Comparative Literature / Spring 2020 / lieven.ameel [a] utu.fi

Primary material

  • Leena Krohn 1985: Tainaron. 1st letter
  • Edward Bellamy 1888: Looking Backward: 2000–1887.
  • H. Auden. 1939. “In memory of W.B. Yeats.”
  • Edwin Morgan. 1965. “In Sobieski’s Shield.”
  • Oyvind Rimbereid. 2004. “Solaris korrigert” / “Solaris corrected”.
  • Colson Whitehead 1999: The Intuitionist.
  • Emily St. John Mandel 2014: Station Eleven.
  • EVAN global scenarios / Juha Itkonen 2009: Pelin henki.
  • Turku City Master Plan 2029.

Secondary material

  • Lubomir Dolezel 1998. Heterocosmica . Fiction and Possible Worlds. Johns Hopkins UP, 113-132.
  • Caroline Edwards 2019. Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 16-25; pp.  35-49
  • Ernst Bloch: ”Introduction.” The Principle of Hope.
  • Richard Gunn 1987: ”Ernst Bloch’s The Principle of Hope.” The Edinburgh Review pp. 1-5.
  • Pirjo Lyytikäinen: “Modernin allegorian A ja O.” Joutsen / Svanen 2014. pp. 13-21.
  • Gifford, Terry. 2014. “Pastoral, Anti-Pastoral, and Post-Pastoral.”
  • Barbara Adam and Chris Groves 2009. Future matters: action, knowledge, ethics. Brill. pp. 13-15, 25-38.

Further reading

  • Ameel, Lieven. 2016. “Cities Utopian, Dystopian and Apocalyptic.” In Tambling, Jeremy (ed.): Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City. London: Palgrave, 2016, 785-80.
  • Lilley, Deborah. ”Pastoral.” In Robert Eaglestone and Daniel O’Gorman (eds.): Routledge Companion to Twenty-First Century Literary Fiction. London: Routledge, 2019.
  • Wendell Bell 2003. Foundations of Futures Studies. London: Routledge.

Thanks to all the feedback I received from colleagues when I asked for future stories of hope – thanks, in particular, to Brian McAllister for suggesting Morgan’s “In Sobieski’s Shield”, to Anne-Marie Evans for reminding me of Station Eleven, and to Caroline Edwards for getting me inspired about the possibility of a utopian method of reading!