Writing the Modern City
Literature, Architecture, Modernity
Edited by Sarah Edwards, Jonathan Charley
Routledge – 2012 – 240 pages
Literary texts and buildings have always represented space, narrated cultural and political values, and functioned as sites of personal and collective identity. In the twentieth century, new forms of narrative have represented cultural modernity, political idealism and architectural innovation. Writing the Modern City explores the diverse and fascinating relationships between literature, architecture and modernity and considers how they have shaped the world today.
This collection of thirteen original essays examines the ways in which literature and architecture have shaped a range of recognisably ‘modern’ identities. It focuses on the cultural connections between prose narratives – the novel, short stories, autobiography, crime and science fiction – and a range of urban environments, from the city apartment and river to the colonial house and the utopian city. It explores how the themes of memory, nation and identity have been represented in both literary and architectural works in the aftermath of early twentieth-century conflict; how the cultural movements of modernism and postmodernism have affected notions of canonicity and genre in the creation of books and buildings; and how and why literary and architectural narratives are influenced by each other’s formal properties and styles.
The book breaks new ground in its exclusive focus on modern narrative and urban space. The essays examine texts and spaces that have both unsettled traditional definitions of literature and architecture and reflected and shaped modern identities: sexual, domestic, professional and national. It is essential reading for students and researchers of literature, cultural studies, cultural geography, art history and architectural history.
This is an ideal foundation text, and one that operates too as a springboard in its breadth as well as its finely detailed analyses. - Review 31
Preface Jonathan Charley and Sarah Edwards Time, Space and Narrative: Reflections on Architecture, Literature and Modernity Jonathan Charley Part 1. Memory, Nation, Identity Remembering and Forgetting: Private and Public Lives in the Imagined Nation Sarah Edwards Poets, Tramps and a Town-Planner: A Survey of Raymond Unwin’s On-Site Persona Brian Ward Unhomely Desire: Dismantling the Walls of Difference in Gora’s Kolkata Mark Mukherjee Campbell ‘The Past Forsworn’: Colonialism and Counterhistory in the Work of Doris Lessing Victoria Rosner Part 2. Movement, Culture, Genre Drugs, Crime and Other Worlds Jonathan Charley Architectural Crimes and Architectural Solutions Peter Clandfield Philip K. Dick’s Disturbanism: Towards Psychospatial Readings of Science Fiction David T. Fortin Alexander Trocchi: Glasgow through the Eye of a Needle Gary A. Boyd Part 3. Narrative, Form, Space Anonymous Encounters: The Structuring of Space in Postmodern Narratives of the City Sarah Edwards The Novel Architecture of Georges Perec Stefanie Elisabeth Sobelle Sex Happens: a Phenomenological Reading of the Casual Encounter Renée Tobe ‘There Are Different Ways of Making the Streets Tell’: Narrative, Urban Space and Orientation Inga Bryden
Sarah Edwards lectures in English Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK. Her publications include articles in Women’s Writing, Journal of Gender Studies, Life Writing, Journal of Popular Culture, Adaptation and Review of English Studies. She is currently completing a monograph, The Edwardians Since 1910, and is the leader of an ESRC seminar series, Nostalgia in the 21st Century (2010–11).
Jonathan Charley is Director of Cultural Studies in the Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK. He studied architecture in London and Moscow and works mainly on the political and social history of buildings and cities.