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The flâneur on the bus: Franz Hessel and Joseph Roth in Weimar Berlin

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The flâneur on the bus: Franz Hessel and Joseph Roth in Weimar Berlin


Berlin, Hessel Franz, Roth Joseph, flâneur, flânerie, littérature, histoire urbaine, Hughes Jon


Organisers' description of the seminar series (source):
The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway is pleased to announce a series of lunchtime Research Seminars in Comparative Literature and Culture. The School’s popular degree programme in Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC) gives students the opportunity to study fiction, film, visual art, and intellectual history across different periods, cultures and contexts. The Research Seminars will showcase the complementary, comparative, and interdisciplinary research interests of researchers in the SMLLC by exploring a single theme: ‘The Flâneur’.

The ‘Flâneur’, both as a figure and as an approach to art, has its origins in the nineteenth century, when the leisurely ‘gentleman stroller’ emerged as a recognizable urban type in cities such as London and, especially, Paris, and consequently became the subject of comment, satire and analysis. For the poet Charles Baudelaire, the flâneur became of a figure of aesthetic and existential significance: the pedestrian observer able to ‘bathe’ in crowds, to feel at home anywhere, to derive intoxication from random encounters. As the world’s cities have continued to expand, the flâneur has continued to exercise influence on and appeal to artists and writers, and architects and urban planners. The early twentieth century saw the figure impact on the work of journalists and critics writing in German, notably the work of Walter Benjamin. At the same time, city streets, the anonymity of crowds, and a fascination for ‘observation’ were characteristic preoccupations of many photographers, artists and filmmakers. More recently, the narrative position of the flâneur – a combination of critical distance and total immersion – has become a feature of travel writing in an increasingly mobile, globalized world.
available to download.
Jon Hughes is Senior Lecturer at the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway, University of London, Research Officer at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies in Sussex, and Lecturer in German at King's College London.


Jon Hughes


7 December 2011