SoSe 15: S-Surveying English Literatures: Writing the Megacity
It is probably the more intuitive approach to think about cities and urbanity in terms of cultural, logistic and demographic centrality, functional concentration and spatial density. In many ways, ... Lesen Sie weiter
It is probably the more intuitive approach to think about cities and urbanity in terms of cultural, logistic and demographic centrality, functional concentration and spatial density. In many ways, the traditional European city with its walled city centre is emblematic of this thinking that possibly finds its last great embodiment in the concept of the metropolis. But developments since the middle of the 20th century, at the latest, have shifted the focus towards dynamic relationships between multiple centres and peripheries as well as the temporality of spatial organisation. To a considerable degree, this is the result of the rise of the predominantly Asian and African megacities. Megacities combine the logistic centrality of the metropolis with an almost uncontrolledly rapid growth and the resulting unpredictable appropriations and functionalizations of urban space. They therefore not only pose a challenge to urban developers in their attempt to structure space and population. The megacity subverts notions of spatial and social order in general and requires new ways of thinking about space and the very dynamics of the formation of communities and identities.
This seminar will concentrate on the possibly paradigmatic megacity: Mumbai. Mumbai, on the one hand, is a hypermodern global metropolis, on the other hand, though, it is riddled with poverty, social and religious conflicts that gave rise to various extremely violent riots throughout the last decades. And, of course, Mumbai also bears the traces of its origin as a colonial city. The seminar will focus on the representation of these conflicts in narrative texts as well as in film, but it will also consider on a more abstract level, how the texts develop (postmodern) representational strategies in order to cope with, capture and develop the cognitive and semiotic challenges the megacity poses.
We will mainly be looking at the following texts: Rohinton Mistry, Tales from Firozsha Baag (1987), Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), Vikas Swarup, Q & A (2005), and Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire (2008). In preparation, I also recommend reading Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2005).