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Title: The flâneur as foreigner : ethnicity, sexuality and power in twentieth century New York writing
Authors: Carlaw, Darren
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The intention of this thesis is to examine the production and function of twentieth century Manhattan' s various marginal communities and underworlds as mediated through the New York walking narrative. The literary flaneurs specialist reading of the cityplace offers an important ground level entry point into these communities, revealing significant tension within the multicultural, multi-racial city. The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first provides a historical and theoretical foundation by examining the origins of the literary flaneur. Before turning to the contemporary material, this chapter offers a photo-fit of the Parisian flaneur and demonstrates that although the New York flaneur is an almost unrecognisable distortion of his or her nineteenth century European counterpart, the two share key characteristics. The chapter then charts the transposition of the flaneur from Europe to America and examines how important literary precursors to the twentieth century New York walking narrative, such as works by Baudelaire, Benjamin, Poe and Whitman, influence and inform the texts studied in the subsequent chapters. Chapter two is a study of the work of Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. This chapter reveals the racial tension between Manhattan' s white bohemia and black ghetto by examining the flaneur's crossing of racial boundaries within the cityplace. Chapter three focuses on the work of Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara and examines the tension between 'straight' and "queer' space by charting the gay flaneur's path through the city. Chapter four examines the blurring of flanerie and vagrancy in the work of llerbert Huneke and David Wojnarowicz by considering the perspective of two homeless writers hustling on the streets of New York. Chapter five is a study of gentrification in Sarah Schulman's Girls. Visions and Everything and Bret Easton Ellis's AmericanPsycho. These two texts allow for gentrification to be viewed from opposing perspectives, through the eyes of two radically different urban wanderers. The thesis as a whole examines the precarious position of Manhattan' s 'outsiders' and exposes the manner in which all forms of transgressive activity. including flanerie, are at risk of being stifled or eradicated by surveillance, policing and gentrification. The flaneurs own position within the cityplace is critically reassessed with regards to his or her potential to either perpetuate or destroy marginal communities via his or her advertising of 'otherness'.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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