Download The City in Contemporary American Literature The postmodern city

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Working Title: Performing Space: The City in Contemporary American Literature
The postmodern city in literature, albeit an illegible text, is still read by many as a metaphor
or symbol that distinctly informs the narrative. In my dissertation project I want to move
away from this interpretation of the postmodern city and focus instead on the various modes
of producing postmodern urban space in literature. Taking as my vantage point the diverse
ways in which fictional characters experience urban space – seeing, hearing, feeling or
dreaming the city – I want to arrive at a topography of the urban imagination that elucidates
the spatial practices which give shape to this space. The city that is produced in literature is
then not only a text, but also the result of a performative enactment: a performance of
fictional space. How do contemporary writers practice the city? What do their cities look
like? Why are spatial practices so important for an understanding of urban space in literature
as well as everyday life? To answer these questions, this project will bring together
sociological theories of urban space and the fictional cities of writers such as Don DeLillo, E.
L. Doctorow, Siri Hustvedt, Jonathan Lethem and John Wray, among others. Advisor: Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss