Upcoming Events


18. JANUARY, 14.00-16.00, E325 (Minerva, Kaivokatu 12)
Jason FINCH: “Mediations and Representations of Mass Housing: Visions versus Phenomenologies?”
Lieven AMEEL: “Narrating Urban Futures: Cities at the Water in Fictional and Non-fictional Texts.”

A vital dimension of contemporary literary studies is increased engagement with real-world issues such as social policy and planning. Practitioners including urban historians and policy-makers gain understanding of aspects of human experience not readily available otherwise in collaboration with literary scholars. Also, techniques originating in literary studies can be used productively to read texts not conventionally labelled literary, including municipal plans and oral histories preserved in archives. On 18 January, SELMA presents two speakers with links to the Centre who work in this interdisciplinary area, and on the frontier dividing academic and extra-academic social analysis. Lieven Ameel and Jason Finch are founder members of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS), the most recent international conference of which was ‘(Im)Possible Cities’ (University of Tampere, 2017). They have jointly edited two volumes arising from the work of the Association and are editors of the Palgrave series Literary Urban Studies (http://www.springer.com/series/15888).

Jason Finch’s paper reports on research into English cities often seen since the mid-twentieth century as being in post-industrial decline or crisis. The contemporary United Kingdom is characterized by extreme inequality of regions, reflected in public health statistics and voting patterns. Public housing is most often now viewed as a space of failure, whether design flaws or politicized neglect are blamed. But it could be rethought via the interaction between literary and urban studies as  the heart of a rejuvenated city. The urban regions in focus are those with Liverpool and Birmingham as their head cities. Instead of working via city novels, these urban regions are examined through diverse textual materials. The focus is on two different periods: both immediately preceding and immediately succeeding that of mass council housing in the UK (1970s-2000s). Books published between the 1910s and 1960s and authored by the City of Liverpool showcased its achievements providing public housing and, ultimately, shaping the city in a much more profound way. These are the visions. The experiences are the work of a writer (Lynsey Hanley) and a photographer (Rob Clayton) about peripheral council estates in the Birmingham city region. The paper negotiates boundaries and trajectories both historical and topographical, bridging the gulf between top-down and bottom-up views of the city.

Lieven Ameel will presents the research project he is embarking on at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (2018-2020). The project analyses narratives of the post-industrial urban waterfront from two distinct, but intermingling perspectives. A first point of focus is on how narrative fiction frames the experience of the waterfront in transformation, and how literature presents possible futures and alternative courses of action in the face of crises. Second, the project will analyse how, in planning and policy documents of the waterfront, the simultaneous possibility of alternative storyworlds structures the way planning narratives are shaped. This research project is interested, in particular, in how competing alternative storyworlds organize the narrative dynamics in both contemporary literary narratives and policy documents, juxtaposing desirable with undesirable storyworlds, and identifying moments of agency – the possibility to act towards a particular future. Three case studies will be addressed: the development of post-industrial waterfronts in Antwerp (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland) and New York City (US) in the period 1990–2040. Drawing on methodologies from literary and narrative studies, the analysis of crisis narratives in the context of three post-industrial harbours will gain new understanding of how urban crises and their solutions are couched in narrative terms. The specific emphasis on storylines related to the threat of rising sea levels in both sets of data adds further focus and, in terms of impact, further urgency.

Jason Finch is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Åbo Akademi University and adjunct professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Turku. He is the author or editor of six books including most recently Deep Locational Criticism (Benjamins, 2016) and, co-edited with Lieven Ameel and Markku Salmela, Literary Second Cities (Palgrave, 2017). Jason’s interdisciplinary research takes a topographic and materialising view of cities in modernity and since, as mediated through texts and images. At present he is writing on London slum fictions of the 1880s and accounts of life experience post-1970 in UK public housing.

Lieven Ameel is Senior Research Fellow at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies. He holds a PhD in comparative literature and Finnish literature (JLU Giessen & University of Helsinki), and is adjunct professor in urban studies and planning methods (Tampere University of Technology). He is the co-editor (together with Jason Finch, Eric Prieto, and Markku Salmela) of the Palgrave Literary Urban Studies Series. Recent book publications include Helsinki in Early Twentieth-Century Literature (2014) and the co-edited Language, Space and Power: Urban Entanglements (2012); Literature and the Peripheral City (2015) and Literary Second Cities (2017), the last two together with Jason Finch and Markku Salmela. Research interests include encounters in public space, city literature, urban futures, and narratives in urban planning.

by prof. Ann Rigney
In this paper, which is part of a larger project on the cultural memory of protest, prof. Rigney challenges the primacy of the traumatic paradigm in cultural memory studies by highlighting the role played by memory in social movements and in the transmission of hope for a better future. She makes her argument with special reference to the long term commemoration of the Paris Commune of 1871, particularly in the decades following its defeat.
8.-11. MARCH
The third symposium of the research network NARRATIVE AND MEMORY: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics (University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway, see details).
16. & 17. MARCH
COMICS & SOCIETY (University of Turku/Nordic Summer University), see for more here.
Knausgård workshop
Keynote by Ulla Savolainen.
11. MAY
A JOINT SYMPOSIUM ON STORYTELLING & ETHICS, in collaboration with the Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London