Writing the City: An Experimental Practice
Doctoral study day organized by Pushpa Arabindoo (2018-2019 Paris IAS fellow/UCL), Alexis Tadie (Paris-Sorbonne) and Sara Thornton (Paris Diderot)
Keynote speakers include Professor Matthew Beaumont (University College London) and Amit Chaudhuri (Author/2018-19 Fellow, Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination).
For most writers, the city can be an important muse, indicating not just a simple reading of the city-as-text but offering instead an impressive urban vocabulary through which one can summon the city into their writing explicitly. The resulting mode of ‘writing the city’ is more than a literary formation as its epistemic tropes can encourage a decisive rethinking of the urban across humanities and social sciences. This workshop engages with this process of writing the city, an exercise spanning from urban to literary studies and extending across realms from fact to fiction in an effort to unpack crucial material that may provide new registers for urban theory through and beyond cultural modes of analysis. It seeks to particularly address two objectives:
1. Uncover the scene of writing, i.e. the city, as a discursive field for analysing the urban, not unlike that undertaken in social theory, infusing new meanings into the way we approach this task through a striking array of textual and non-textual formats.
2. Probe the act of writing as an experimental practice that can reconcile the creative and the critical, where in writing the city as a creative fiction complements the factual writing of the urban as a critical text.
In this sense, this workshop will consider contributions from those who view writing the city as an epistemologically and methodologically radical exercise through tactics that might involve practices of defamiliarization as well as hybridisation: What opportunities does writing the city in non-generative terms provide beyond the textual parameters of familiar forms and habitual processes? What kind of collisions and collusions does this entail and what are its outcomes?
Thus, the notion of writing the city as an experimental practice will be explored through the three sub-themes of PERIPHERIES, SENSORIALITY, and SPATIO-TEMPORALITY, to draw out provocative narratives that embed and embody the city within our writings. We encourage participants to present your own experience of and engagement with:
- Writing the city as an experimental practice, destabilising normalized modes of
academic writing and unsettling text used in the process of writing the city. As this
disrupts assumptions about fact and fiction by simultaneously writing across and over one another, could you reflect on how the resulting process of urban storytelling is punctuated and punctured by uncertainties and incompleteness?
- A deliberate unevenness that is unavoidable in writing the city, given the entanglement of different sub-texts requiring us to continually cross the line in terms of writing the city. How do you cope with this unbecoming process of writing that does not yield to normative assumptions of form or linearity?
- Making space for ‘original’ languages while writing the city without resorting to
translations, thereby making overt not just the messy nature of cities but writing itself with clumsy untranslated phrases and our resulting tendency to impose layers of explanations. This raises the question of can we write the city without the ‘affect of translation’, and whether a distinctiveness of language might force us to write the city as a collage rather than a seamless narrative that we normally aspire to?
09.30 – 09.45 INTRODUCTION
Dr. PUSHPA ARABINDOO, UCL/IEA DE PARIS
09.45 – 11.00 FIRST KEYNOTE : Beware of Buildings: Looking at Cities Looking at Us
PROFESSOR MATTHEW BEAUMONT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
11.00 – 11.15 Break
11.15 – 12.45 CREATIVE/CRITICAL INTERROGATIONS 01: PERIPHERIES
CHAIR/DISCUSSANT: Dr. PUSHPA ARABINDOO
Mapping Peripheries: The Critical Imagination of 21st Century Delhi in
Indian Writing in English
MARIANNE HILLION, UNIVERSITÉ PARIS-SORBONNE
Black Space/White Memory: Personal Reflections on Writing the (Transitional) City
MARION MARCHET, UNIVERSITÉ PARIS-SORBONNE
12.45 – 14.15 Lunch Break
14.15 – 15.45 CREATIVE/CRITICAL INTERROGATIONS 02: SENSORIALITY
CHAIR/DISCUSSANT: PROFESSOR ALEXIS TADIE, UNIVERSITÉ PARIS-SORBONNE
Counter-mapping in Dickens’ and Rushdie’s Urban Narratives
AMINA LUDMILLA TOUALBIA, UNIVERSITÉ DE PARIS
'Thinking Machine' and 'Shilling Paint Box': Reimagining the City in the Works of Patrick Geddes and G.K. Chesterton
MARIELLE LIPPMANN, UNIVERSITÉ DE PARIS
15.45 – 16.00 Break
16.00 – 17.15 SECOND KEYNOTE: Calcutta and Bombay: Two experiences of the unhomelike?
AMIT CHAUDHURY, COLUMBIA INSTITUTE FOR IDEAS AND IMAGINATIONS, PARIS
17.15 – 18.45 CREATIVE/CRITICAL INTERROGATIONS 03: SPATIO-TEMPORALITY
CHAIR/DISCUSSANT: PROFESSOR SARA THORNTON, UNIVERSITÉ DE PARIS
Writing as Waiting? Using Poetry as a Tactic to Engage in the Space-Time Experience of Watchmen in Nairobi
JEAN-BAPTISTE LANNE, ECOLE NORMALE SUPÉRIEURE
Dilip Chitre and the Breakfast Poems: Writing Bombay at Dawn
MANON BOUKHROUFA TRIJAUD, UNIVERSITÉ PARIS-SORBONNE