Book Launch: Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies and Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory – 30 September 2022

Today we organize a double book launch at Tampere University to celebrate the recent publication of two new volumes: the Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies (Ameel 2022) and the Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory (Dawson & Mäkelä 2022).

Very much looking forward to the talk by visiting prof. Cecile Sandten (TU Chemnitz), who has agreed to give a brief assessment of the Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies as part of the program.

The book launch also has given me the time to reflect more on what has been achieved with the Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies, what could have gone differently, and what aspects stand out looking back. I will talk about these elements in more detail today, but I’d look to highlight here three of the 33 brilliant chapters of the volume. I hope these brief highlights will say something also about the aims for the broader volume, and will encourage readers to get to know the companion in its totality.

1. The chapter on the “Medieval Civic Encomium”, subtitled “A Theme and Variations in Praise of Italian Cities”, by Carrie Beneš and Laura Morreale. My own sense is that contemporary literary urban studies could do more to be attentive to historical city writing genres, which is why I was particularly happy to be able to include this exciting chapter on the genre of the civic encomium, a genre with a hugely important afterlife in city writing. What makes this an extra special chapter is that much of the work by the authors here is based on literary texts that are not available in translation, or even available in print, making this a particularly rich contribution. Fascinating is also how the the chapter shows that the genre of the encomium was active beyond literary texts (strictly defined), with a vivid presence in civic festivals and city life.

2. Michael G. Kelly’s chapter “The Form of a City: Geographies of Constraint in
Contemporary Urban Writing from France” presents scholarly work that is fairly close to my own research interests and which probably also for that reason resonated particularly strongly with me from the moment I read the first draft. Kelly’s chapter presents an unusally ambitious – and highly compelling – analysis of the interrelationship between city form and the form of the literary text. It brings figures from the urban margin, as well as lesser-known French authors, to the centre of literary urban studies, all in a study that in its own, balanced and intricate structure, reflects an attentiveness to the how material, societal, and literary form may interact.

3. Elizabeth Ho’s chapter “The Urban Child and Hong Kong’s Public Housing and Public Space in Yeung Hok-Tat’s How Blue Was My Valley“. Hugely attentive to the details of literary analysis as applied to the graphic novel, and with a meticulous grounding of the literary text within the local urban development context and the planning literature, this chapter will be useful to literary urban studies scholars and students alike. Also a text that puts the experiences of the child front and center. The evocative images from Hok-Tat’s graphic novel are an integral part of the compelling argumentative progression in this chapter.

Abstracts and book launch details below:

Lieven Ameel (ed.): The Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies. August 2022

The Routledge Companion to Literary Urban studies consists of 33 newly commissioned chapters that provide an outline of contemporary literary urban studies. The Companion covers all of the main theoretical approaches as well as key literary genres, with case studies covering a range of different geographical, cultural, and historical settings. The final chapters provide a window into new debates in the field. The three focal issues are key concepts and genres of literary urban studies; a reassessment and critique of classical urban studies theories and the canon of literary capitals; and methods for the analysis of cities in literature. The Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies provides the reader with practical insights into the methods and approaches that can be applied to the city in literature and serves as an important reference work for upper-level students and researchers working on city literature.

Paul Dawson & Maria Mäkelä (eds.): Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory. July 2022.  

The Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory brings together top 44 scholars in the field to explore the significance of narrative to pressing social, cultural, and theoretical issues. How does narrative both inform and limit the way we think today? From conspiracy theories and social media movements to racial politics and climate change future scenarios, the reach is broad. This volume is distinctive for addressing the complicated relations between the interdisciplinary narrative turn in the academy and the contemporary boom of instrumental storytelling in the public sphere. The 40 chapters of the volume explore new theories of causality, experientiality, and fictionality, challenge normative modes of storytelling, and offer polemical accounts of narrative fiction, nonfiction, and video games. Drawing upon the latest research in areas from cognitive sciences to complexity theory, the volume provides an accessible entry point for those new to the myriad applications of narrative theory and a point of departure for new scholarship. 

The Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory - 1st Edition - Paul Daws

Time: Friday, September 30 at 14:00–16:30  // Place: Café Aula & Toivo, Main Building 2nd floor, City Centre Campus 

Sparkling wine, coffee/tea and snack served. The program will consist of short introductory talks, online video greetings from our international collaborators and contributors, and a guest commentary by visiting Erasmus professor Cecile Sandten.  

The book launch is also the first event of the science event series of the Faculty of Social Science, Tampere University.  

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