Neo-Victorian Cities

Reassessing Urban Politics and Poetics


This volume explores the complex aesthetic, cultural, and memory politics of urban representation and reconfiguration in neo-Victorian discourse and practice. Through adaptations of traditional city tropes – such as the palimpsest, the labyrinth, the femininised enigma, and the marketplace of desire – writers, filmmakers, and city planners resurrect, preserve, and rework nineteenth-century metropolises and their material traces while simultaneously Gothicising and fabricating ‘past’ urban realities to serve present-day wants, so as to maximise cities’ potential to generate consumption and profits. Within the cultural imaginary of the metropolis, this volume contends, the nineteenth century provides a prominent focalising lens that mediates our apperception of and engagement with postmodern cityscapes. From the site of capitalist romance and traumatic lieux de mémoire to theatre of postcolonial resistance and Gothic sensationalism, the neo-Victorian city proves a veritable Proteus evoking myriad creative responses but also crystallising persistent ethical dilemmas surrounding alienation, precarity, Othering, and social exclusion.

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Marie-Luise Kohlke lectures in English Literature at Swansea University, Wales, UK, with main research foci in neo-Victorianism, trauma narrative and theory, and gender and sexuality. She is the General and Founding Editor of the peer-reviewed e-journal Neo-Victorian Studies and Series Co-Editor (with Christian Gutleben) of Rodopi’s Neo-Victorian Series.

Christian Gutleben is Professor at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France, where he teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature. His research focuses on the links between these two historical periods and traditions, and he is the author of one of the earliest critical surveys of neo-Victorian literature, Nostalgic Postmodernism: The Victorian Tradition and the Contemporary British Novel (Rodopi, 2001), as well as co-editor (with Susana Onega) of Refracting the Canon in Contemporary British Literature and Film (Rodopi, 2004).
“Like the previous volumes in the “neo-Victorian series” edited by Kohlke and Gutleben, this collection includes stimulating and thought-provoking analyses not only of novels but also of various (and diverse) movies, non-literary texts, architectural projects, and other artistic works, offering readers a comprehensive view of neo-Victorian negotiations with various notions of the city. This critically solid volume is a rewarding reading experience for all those who are interested in the multiple and subtle ways through which our nineteenth-century relatives inhabit our spaces, and still continue to live with and in us.” - Saverio Tomaiulo, in: RSV – Revista di Studi Vittoriani, Vol. 40 (2017) pp. 130-137
“Since the so-called ‘spatial turn’, cultural geography has become one of the most vibrant fields in cultural studies, with approaches ranging from a Benjamin-inflected urban phenomenology to approaches in urban sociology, media geography, psychogeography, cultural architecture, etc. The volume offers unique insights into both the contemporary and the Victorian urban mentality, thus contributing significantly both the Urban Studies and Neo-Victorian Studies circuits. The well-written and well-structured essays are informed by expert knowledge of relevant texts across media borders, and portray the neo-Victorian take on Victorian cities as fascinating, ever-changing palimpsest of historical narratives and practices.” – Prof. Dr. Eckart Voigts, TU Braunschweig

Troping the Neo-Victorian City: Strategies of Reconsidering the Metropolis, Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben

PART I: Capitalising on the Palimpsestic City
1. Making and Unmaking ‘Marvellous Melbourne’: The Colonial City as Palimpsest in Neo-Victorian Fiction and Non-Fiction, Kate Mitchell
2. Neo-Victorian Cities and the Ramifications of Global Capitalism in Ayeesha Menon’s Mumbai Chuzzlewits, Nathalie Vanfasse
3. Re-imagining the Victorian Flâneur in the 1960s: The London Nobody Knows by Geoffrey Fletcher and Norman Cohen, Isabelle Cases
4. ‘Part Barrier, Part Entrance to a Parallel Dimension’: London and the Modernity of Urban Perception, Julian Wolfreys

PART II: Gothicising the Metropolitan Deathscape
5. Vulnerable Visibilities: Peter Ackroyd’s Monstrous Victorian Metropolis, Jean-Michel Ganteau
6. Mapping Gothic London: Urban Waste, Class Rage and Mixophobia in Dan Simmons’s Drood, Mariaconcetta Costantini
7. Neo-Victorian Cities of the Dead: Contemporary Fictions of the Victorian Cemetery, Susan K. Martin
8. Londons under London: Mapping Neo-Victorian Spaces of Horror, Paul Dobraszczyk

PART III: Romancing the Commodified Metropolis
9. A Strangely Mingled Monster: Gender and Spatial Transgression in the Hardcore Metropolis of Paul Thomas’s Jekyll and Hyde, Laura Helen Marks
10. Steampunking New York City in Kate and Leopold, Margaret D. Stetz
11. The Ship and the Gun: The Perversity of Neo-Victorian Belfast in Glenn Patterson’s The Mill for Grinding Old People Young, Barry Sheils
12. Adaptive Re-Use: Producing Neo-Victorian Space in Hong Kong, Elizabeth Ho

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