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Urban Humanities

In the wake of the so-called “urban turn” in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, the Urban Humanities Working Group wants to investigate the possible frameworks through which the city emerges as a unit of analysis in the various disciplines of literary studies history, geography, and film studies. The idea of the city crosses multiple disciplinary formations, and by juxtaposing the concept of the city with multiple disciplines, we want to interrogate the ways the definitions of urban space interact with each of these disciplines. The city itself has morphed into something that transgresses the traditional formations of the urban and the rural, the fictional and the material, the state/institutional, and the resistant/popular. What do we mean when we use this concept of the city and what kinds of multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary approaches are required to capture formations that elude a singular definition? In the face of grand proclamations that we are living through an “urban age,” or experiencing global homogenizing processes of “plantetary urbanization”, what does it mean to attend to the historical and geographical particularity of “cityness”? How does the analytical abandonment of “the city” foreclose an openness to the lived experience of urban life? How does literature, film, and related ethnographic texts reveal the city phenomenologically and historically to be something that exceeds the seemingly outdated definitional logics of urban/rural?

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