Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique
Milburn, K (2010). Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique. Writing Cities. Nottingham 09 Jun 2009 University of Nottingham.
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.
|Flâneur; Paris; Flânerie; Private Investigator; Private Detective; Charles Baudelaire; Arcades; Parisian; Film Noir
|University of Nottingham
|Accepted author manuscript
|01 Feb 2010
|Publication process dates
|06 Apr 2018
|01 Sep 2009
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