23 Mai 2023
13:00  - 14:00

English Seminar Room 11

Englisches Seminar

Öffentliche Veranstaltung, Gastvorlesung / Vortrag

"Memory, Narrative and the Urban: Glimpsing Structural Entanglements in Teju Cole’s Open City"

Vortrag von Tamara Imboden (Universität Basel)

Tamara Imboden: Memory, Narrative and the Urban: Glimpsing Structural Entanglements in Teju Cole’s Open City


In recent decades, the city novel has become an extremely popular lens through which to explore questions of identity, subjectivity, agency and oppression. Numerous urban novels of the last twenty years, such as Teju Cole’s Open City (2011), explore the city space from different angles, interrogating varying individual positions within and across urban space. The narrative structures of these novels engage with the structures of the city and, as I will show, both structures concurrently mediate what I term structures of experience. In his seminal essay “Walking in the City,” Michel de Certeau posits that the cityscape can be read as text, and spatial trajectories within that city are in themselves systems of meaning, thus linking individual experiences of the city to textual structures. In this talk, I will examine Open City to illustrate how my dissertation “Structural Entanglements: Urban Experience and Narrative Structure” explores these parallels between the urban, the narrative, and the experiential. The novel highlights blind spots in the narrator-protagonist’s own perception through the narrative structure, which brings the narrator’s experience into a parallel with New York’s traumatic past. By exploring these connections across a range of urban fiction of the 21st century, “Structural Entanglements” asks whether cities are mere backdrops for the stories we tell, or whether they play a more active role in mediating experience within narrative. Does the city perhaps present us with a language with which to speak that experience? With the growing prevalence and rising complexity of contemporary cities in an increasingly mobile world, this project will add necessary, nuanced insights to identity construction in the 21st century.

Veranstaltung übernehmen als iCal