Urban Microcosms 1789-1940

Edited by Margit Dirscherl and Astrid Köhler
5 July 2019
229 × 152 mm
320 pp
Paperback: 978-0-85457-266-3

Urban microcosms are small-scale communal spaces that are integral to, or integrated into, city life. Some, such as railway stations or department stores, are typically located in city centres. Others, such as parks, are less quintessentially metropolitan, whilst harbours or beaches are often located on the peripheries of cities or outside them altogether. All are part of a network of nodes establishing connections in and beyond the city. Together, they shape and inflect the infrastructure of modern life. By introducing the concept of urban microcosm into social, cultural, and literary studies, this interdisciplinary volume challenges the widely held assumption that city life is evenly spread across its spaces. Sixteen case studies focus on selected urban microcosms from across Europe between 1789 and 1940, and examine the external appearance, representation, histories, and internal rules of these organizational structures and facilities. In so doing, they contribute to an understanding of modernity, and of the impact of the dynamics of urban life on human experience and intersubjectivity.

Margit Dirscherl is Lecturer in German at St Hugh’s, University of Oxford. Astrid Köhler is Professor of German Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies at Queen Mary University of London.

Table of contents: 
Introduction: Towards a Phenomenology of Urban Microcosms 
Margit Dirscherl and Astrid Köhler
1. Jardins publics and jardins privés: Fictions of Urbanity in Nineteenth-Century Paris 
Robert Lethbridge
2. Marcel Proust’s ‘lieu factice’ and the Urban Microcosm 
Oliver Brett
3. The Eye of the Storm: Deceleration in Literary Depictions of Railway Stations
Margit Dirscherl
4. Harbouring Urbanity
Johanna Bundschuh-van Duikeren
5. ‘What does New York City denote anyway? Big city is big city. I have been to Hanover often enough’: Museum and Department Store in Arno Schmidt’s Aus dem Leben eines Fauns 
Sven Hanuschek
6. The Department Store as Habitat of the Sophisticated Urbanite: Georg Hermann’s Der kleine Gast (1925) 
Godela Weiss-Sussex
7. ‘Kafka didn’t often come to the café’: The Prague Café as a Space of Memory 
Lucy Duggan
8. New Temples — Restaurants as Places of Modern Urbanity in Russia’s fin de siècle: The Restaurant as a New Sacred Place 
Botakoz Kassymbekova
9. Views of Italian Urban Microcosms in Giacomo Leopardi’s Work
Andrea Penso
10. Waves and Globes in Walter Benjamin’s Microcosmic Cities
Esther Leslie
11. ‘For public business or amusements’: Places and Spaces of Urbanity in Town Directories, 1760–1820 
Cristina Sasse
12. For Whom Tolls the Bell? The Changing Meaning of Church Bells in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literary Descriptions of Villages and Cities 
Elio Baldi
13. Replicating and Representing the Abandoned City: Artists’ Coastal Colonies and Depictions of the Seashore 
Charles Jones
14. Nineteenth-Century Spa Towns and Urban Microcosms: The Case of Karlovy Vary 
Astrid Köhler
15. Patient Narratives as Distorted Mirrors: Letters from a Nineteenth-Century Psychiatric Hospital
Markus Schiegg
16. Les Hommes de la Route in the Boudoir: The  Road Conference as an Urban Microcosm (1910–38) 
David Peleman
Notes on Contributors