ABSTRACT

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book argues that while literary texts and literary modes of reading form only a portion of urban representations, there is something distinctive about a literary reading of the city. Several major twentieth-century accounts of literary urban representations began with the supposedly leading or central world cities, for instance sharing Walter Benjamin’s view of Paris as ‘capital of the nineteenth century’, or seeing ‘the skyscraper Manhattan of the twentieth century or the global financial capitals of the twenty-first’ as primary. The new literary urban studies which grew during the 2010s became less a definable subfield and method, more an overarching means of gathering shared interests across boundaries of period, language and genre. Good academic work in literary studies invariably contains the following elements in some order.