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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Caroline Rosenthal
Affiliation:
Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
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Summary

“The City” is a slippery notion. It slides back and forth between an abstract idea and concrete material.

— Rob Shields, “A Guide to Urban Representation and What to Do About It”

THE CITY, AS HUMAN GEOGRAPHER Rob Shields puts it, is indeed a slippery notion. Not only because cities are made of dreams, imaginations, and representations as much as they are made of concrete streets, buildings, and people, but also because aesthetic responses to the metropolis after postmodernism have become so multifarious that it is becoming difficult to speak of the genre of city fiction. In our age of media technology, mass transportation, and globalization, we are experiencing a proliferation of the urban condition, and yet defining the urban and the culture of cities is getting harder, because the urban has diversified into various urban lifestyles. Metropolises arose with modernism, and modern city texts not only captured the shock and creative potential of the city in their subject matter but reflected the new urban experience in their linguistic and narrative design. Modern city fiction hence did not simply mirror urbanity but arose concomitantly with the urban experience and, for modern writers, “urban space was the modernization process turned flesh.” Postmodern city fiction, in contrast, no longer treated the city as a real realm of experience but as a text. The city was immaterialized and turned into a sign system, which, however, evaded definite readings. With postmodernism the city was fragmented into a myriad of urban images and competing discourses and was transformed from a modernist experiential realm into a “firework of free-floating signifiers.”

Type
Chapter
Information
New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
Explorations of the Urban
, pp. 1 - 10
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Introduction
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
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  • Introduction
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
×