The flaneur and the detective: Patterns of urban identity in American fiction

Lakatos, Agnieszka (2004) The flaneur and the detective: Patterns of urban identity in American fiction. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 10391059.pdf] PDF
Download (4MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


The thesis analyses problems of urban discourse in American fiction of late twentieth century. It focuses on four different novels, representative of interesting trends in contemporary American literature: Raymond Federman's Smiles on Washington Square, Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, and Paul Auster's City of Glass. The variety of narrative techniques and approaches to urban themes in these works of fiction allows for drawing interesting parallels between them and broader literary and cultural traditions. The thesis focuses on two figures of urban walkers, which keep reappearing in urban discourse since the nineteenth century: the figure of the flaneur and that of the detective. By analysing how these figures find their places in contemporary fiction, the thesis aims to draw attention to new aspects of contemporary urban culture and its representation. The theoretical framework includes classic texts by authors such as Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, further developments of their concepts by contemporary critics, and draws on theories of urban culture, but also religion and psychoanalysis, to support, or challenge, claims proposed by literary criticism. The thesis incorporates theoretical stances into detailed close reading of the narratives, often contrasted with contradictory readings by other critics. It proposes a view on postmodern culture not as a radical negation of previous cultural patterns, but as a continuation of certain pre-modern trends. The conclusion draws a parallel between the experience of walking, as presented in the narratives discussed, and the experience of reading the narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: American literature.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Connor, Dr. Rachel and Selby, Dr. Nick
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-71440
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 14:40
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2021 14:26

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year