Between experience and representation. Cities in an area of tension, 1800-1914
10-11th March 2011, Radboud University of Nijmegen,
Nineteenth-century Europeans experienced growing difficulties in understanding their cities. So much is clear when studying the very different ways in which cities were described. Whereas some people associated the city with freedom, wealth and artistic creativity, others noticed nothing but the unwholesomeness, the loneliness, the immorality and the noise. The causes of this division are easily explained: industrialization, technological progress and the ever increasing mobility were changing the nineteenth-century Lebensraum at an unbelievable pace. Especially in the cities, these processes led to abrupt changes in perspective and ever-evolving ways of experiencing space. Between experience and representation. Cities in an area of tension, 1800-1914, the sequel to the conference Nations in an area of tension (2009), of which the proceedings will be published in the spring of 2010 by Verloren Publishers (Hilversum), concentrates on that constant renewal of the way in which the city is experienced and represented. The central question is how literary and other texts dating from the long nineteenth century bear witness to the confusing realities of city life.
From a methodological point of view, this conference aims explicitly at connecting different academic disciplines. More specifically, we want to confront literary theory and literary history with three other fields of research: cultural and social history, theory and history of architecture and urbanism, and art history/visual culture. The approach will be twofold. On the one hand, theoretical insights from one discipline will be used to shed new light on source material from another. On the other hand, literary discourse will be confronted with non-literary discourse. Secondly, Dutch or Flemish case studies will be compared with transnational case studies which provide a link with the Low Countries. In the way urban space is experience, (gender-based) social stratification, should be taken into account as much as possible.
More particularly, we would like to invite speakers to think about four axes of tension around which we cluster the different research questions. The first axis concerns the tension between the city as workplace and the city as recreational space. The ways in which the experience of shopping area (shopping centres, department stores, shopping streets) or typical recreational areas (theatres, parks, pubs, zoos, brothels) is described, is as relevant as the representation of offices, factories, construction sites, harbours, and the ‘workshops of the mind’, such as academic spaces (studies, libraries). In the world’s fair and elsewhere, both functions of the city (working and recreation) meet.
The second axis includes the representation of spaces that imply the tension between the public and the private spheres. The representation of interiors (of pubs, of waiting rooms, of the houses of authors) belongs to this category. The same can be said of their outward appearance, the interior in reverse as it were, that may be seen in, for example, façades and shop windows. Special attention should be paid to religious spaces such as churches, monasteries and convents, places of pilgrimage and chapels.
Under the third axis are gathered spaces where mobility and stagnation both play important roles. Here, spaces that have to do with tourism (the old city centre, museums, world’s fairs), with traffic (railway stations, subways, streetcars) and with migration and internationalism come to mind The nineteenth-century city profits from technological expansion but at the same time undergoes different forms of ‘musealisation’.
The fourth and final axis concerns the opposition between regulation and (uncontrolled) growth. How did people perceive green places in the city (parks, periphery, and urban farms) – as an interruption of the rampant growth of buildings, as the urban dream of an absent nature? How did they interpret city redevelopment (the dirt and the money, the filling of canals, slums) and what visions on city expansion are current: are these buildings outside the old city centre, surrounded by canals, related to a new class of citizens or to a new understanding of social hierarchy?
The international conference Between experience and representation. Cities in an area of tension, 1800-1914 will take place at Radboud University of Nijmegen, on March 10th and 11th. Languages used will be English and Dutch. Proposals for papers may be submitted until September 15th and should count 250 words. Submitters will be informed on October 15th at the latest.
Dr. T. Sintobin
Nederlandse taal- en cultuur
NL 6500 – HD
0031-24 361 5491
Jan-Hein Furnée (Universiteit van Amsterdam; cultuur- en mentaliteitsgeschiedenis na 1750)
Tom Sintobin (Radboud Universiteit; Nederlandse taal en cultuur)
Pieter Uyttenhove (Universiteit Gent; Architectuur en Stedenbouw)
Hans Vandevoorde (VUB; Taal- en letterkunde)
Rob van de Schoor (Radboud Universiteit, Nederlandse taal en cultuur)
Peter Altena (Dominicus College, Nijmegen)
Nele Bemong (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; onderzoekseenheid Nederlandse literatuur)
Lotte Jensen (Radboud Universiteit; Nederlandse taal en cultuur)
Mary Kemperink (Universiteit Groningen, Nederlandse taal en cultuur)
Marita Mathijsen (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde)
Liedeke Plate (Radboud Universiteit; Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen en Genderstudies)
Jo Tollebeek (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; onderzoekseenheid cultuurgeschiedenis vanaf 1750)
Adresse : Dr. T. SintobinRadboud UniversiteitFaculteit LetterenNederlandse taal- en cultuurPostbus 9103NL 6500 – HDNijmegen