Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies

Decentring the Flâneur: global histories of walking the early modern city

London, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Friday 15th (09:00) - Saturday 16th November 2019 (17:00)

Call for papers: Decentring the Flâneur: global histories of walking the early modern city

A conference organised by Sussan Babaie (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London) and Richard Wrigley (History of Art, University of Nottingham).

Ideas about the origins and context for the flâneur have been tied to Paris, and viewed through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. While Benjaminian orthodoxy has increasingly been challenged, the association of the flâneur with modernity and European cities has continued to dominate studies of its variant forms. This conference aims to de-centre the concept and expand such critique by identifying and analysing forms of pedestrian observation in the early modern period taking note of the fact that strolling, seeing and being seen—and ‘walking the city’—emerged well before Europe and the 19th century in urban experiences in cities like Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi and Beijing. 

The conference will begin with a keynote address on the subject by Professor Çiğdem Kafescioğlu, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul 

We invite paper proposals which address any aspect of this topic. Potential themes are:

  • Leisure as spectacle
  • Spatial mobility
  • Aspects of visual culture and their interplay with forms of pedestrian viewing (shop signs, for example).
  • Association of particular forms of walking and exploring in different urban structures
  • Gendered urban experiences and mobility
  • Types of literary form arising from modes of walking and viewing
  • Dress and the paraphernalia of walking
  • Asserting and transgressing class, caste and hierarchy in terms of spatial mobility 

Please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words to both:

Sussan Babaie and Richard Wrigley by no later than 1 June 2019.


Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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