Radical Cities, Radical Narratives

Royal Holloway, University of London
Department of English/Centre for GeoHumanities conference:
Radical Cities, Radical Narratives
20​ th​ October, 2017
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Professor Matthew Beaumont, University College London
(Author of ​ Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, Chaucer to Dickens ​ [2015])

Contemporary cities are sites of new and deeply challenging social, political and aesthetic experiences; from gentrification to migration to climate change, they are vexed sites of intersection between local experience and the global challenges of the twenty-first century. These new challenges provoke radical responses; both aesthetic, in the form of innovative and experimental approaches to representation, and political, in the form of new movements like Occupy.
In what ways might the new and challenging forms and experiences of the contemporary city provide paradigms for the critical study of contemporary narrative? How might thinking about the contemporary city in narrative terms expand our understanding of it? In what novel ways are contemporary narrative practices informed by the city as we experience it now?
This one-day conference, hosted by the Department of English and the Centre for GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, will address ways in which contemporary narrative forms, procedures and practices are shaped by the particular experiences of the twenty-first century city. It will also consider how the contemporary city itself – its spaces, conflicts and politics – might be conceptualised in narrative terms. In so doing, it intends to provide a forum for a novel interdisciplinary conversation on the relations between narrative and contemporary urban forms.

Proposals for 20-minute presentations are invited. Possible topics might include, but are by no means limited to:
■ Formal, structural and stylistic responses to the city in the contemporary novel
■ Urban and narrative forms in contemporary poetics
■ Responses to the contemporary city in non-literary narrative forms (film, performance art, television etc.)
■ Relationships between contemporary architecture and narrative
■ New relations between public and private space, and their impact on narrative forms
■ Terrorism and the city narrative; narrating the post-9/11 city
■ Narratives emerging from gentrification and new conflicts surrounding class and race in urban spaces
■ Narrative responses to precariousness and contemporary city life (employment, housing etc.)
■ Cities and narratives of ecology and climate crisis
■ Narratives of new urban politics/protest: direct action, Occupy etc.
■ Migration, the city and narrative forms
■ Gender and narrative in contemporary urban space

Please send your 250-500 word proposals, plus ​ a 50-word biography (including Departmental affiliation)​ , to radicalcities2017@gmail.com​ . While this conference may mainly be of interest to researchers in English and/or the GeoHumanities, researchers and students in the humanities more generally (such as Film/Media Arts, Music, Languages, History, Politics, Philosophy, Digital Humanities, and Liberal Arts) are invited and encouraged to submit proposals. We also welcome proposals for presentations deploying creative and practice-based research methods (such as readings, performances, short film screenings etc.). Proposals using interdisciplinary methods and perspectives are especially welcome.