Cities and Their Representations At the Turn of the Century

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA: American Comparative Literature Organization/ Washington DC

Who does the city represent? What does a city represent? What does it mean to represent and how does this come together in representations of cities at the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, a moment associated with the height of modernity, or at least the height of excitement about the project of modernization? The relationship between cities and modernity is often taken for granted. For example, many scholars associate cities with civilization, particularly as sites for the advancement of civilization. Yet, wholesale urban planning performed from the top down is often enacted in decidedly uncivil ways, calling into question which populations are represented in and by the city, or who is the proper citizen? This is exemplified in Haussmannization, where the outcome was the transformation of Paris into a modern city, but the process was inhumane and brutal, destroying entire neighborhoods and displacing large swaths of the population in the name of modernization. Nevertheless, modern city planning and its methods were widely disseminated across the globe, along with their top down implementation. Modernity, modernization and the city crystallized as descriptive, material, and ideological notions (Sarlo, 8).


What institutions and social groups are included in this ambitious project/ desire of modernization and which areas and people are left behind?  How do writers, intellectuals and artists in general react to/represent modernity? How is urban reform at times fostered by the state, and at other times how does it occur unsupervised? This panel seeks papers that explore urban/city/metropolitan spaces across the world at the turn of the century, framed through the lens of representation that includes but is not limited to literature and visual culture.


Potential topics:

  • Gendered spaces

  • Urban reforms and culture

  • Writers and flâneurs

  • Culture of global cities

  • The city and the country

  • The modern metropolis vs. megalopolis, global southern/northern thinking

  • Labor and the city

  • Globalized labor and the city

  • Imperialism/colonialism and the city

  • How does urban terminology/representation shape our urban imaginary

  • Modern city planning/urban planning

Abstracts should be no longer than 250 characters. To submit an abstract create an ACLA account (free) and submit the paper using the ACLA abstract submission portal for Cities and Their Representations: . The portal opens for Paper submission on August 30th and has a hard deadline of September 20th 9 AM EST for abstract submissions, after which the portal closes. If you  have any questions concerning this panel or the submission process, please feel free to contact either Sophia Basaldua-Sun at or Fernanda Righi at .