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Chapter 16 - Concrete Illuminations

The Short Story and/as Urban Revolution

from Part III - People and Places

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2023

Michael J. Collins
King's College London
Gavin Jones
Stanford University
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This chapter argues that the short story emerges and develops alongside what Henri Lefebvre has termed the “Urban Revolution.” Drawing on Ricardo Piglia’s claim that “short story always tells two stories,” whose convergence catalyses a “profane illumination,” this chapter reads the short story’s doubled form as capturing a specifically urban dialectic, which expresses the interplay between the determining force of capitalist urbanization, and the hidden histories, everydayness, and revolutionary potentials lurking within. To make this claim, the chapter periodizes the history of the American short story and maps its changing generic forms in relationship to four key moments of urbanization: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s romance in the colonial mercantile city; Edgar Allan Poe’s and Pauline Hopkins’ detective fiction and Anzia Yezierska’s and Meridel LeSeur’s ghetto pastoral in the industrial city; Ray Bradbury’s and Samuel Delany’s Science Fiction in the automotive city; and Eden Robinson’s SF refiguration in the logistical or neo-mercantile city.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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