Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique

Conference item


Milburn, K (2010). Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique. Writing Cities. Nottingham 09 Jun 2009 University of Nottingham.
AuthorsMilburn, K
Abstract

This paper resulted from a workshop entitled ‘Writing Cities’, which took place at the University of Nottingham on 9th June 2009. A methodological critique, it traces the evolution of the flâneur and examines the distinctive ways of seeing and writing associated with that figure. The paper draws connections between material alterations to the fabric of the city and the cultural formations that result from them. In this context, it recognises that the building of the Parisian arcades was a necessary material determinant of the advent of flânerie. Additionally, the paper sketches a family tree of flânerie, one that branches out beyond the familiar confines of French literature. Antecedents of the flâneur are discovered in the work of DeQuincey and Poe, whilst its descendants are encountered in later metropolitan settings, particularly in mediated representations of the mid-twentieth century American city. In relation to the latter focal point, a comparison is made between the Private Investigator – and the ways in which he inhabits his nourish, urban milieu – and the original flâneur, in nineteenth century Paris. An assertion is made that both of these city archetypes embraced a distanced perspective and adopted a ‘totalizing’ – but also profoundly selective – gaze in their differing attempts to reveal and apprehend the metropolis.

KeywordsFlâneur; Paris; Flânerie; Private Investigator; Private Detective; Charles Baudelaire; Arcades; Parisian; Film Noir
Year2010
PublisherUniversity of Nottingham
Accepted author manuscript
Publication dates
Print01 Feb 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Apr 2018
Accepted01 Sep 2009
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/87q2q

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