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Title: Mind the gap : flânerie in Baudelaire and Woolf
Author: Wang, Shao-Hua
ISNI:       0000 0004 6063 2528
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This research stems from an interest in the role of the flâneur and his interaction with the city. The flâneur has been theorised as one of the most prominent figures in understanding modernity. This study draws upon two well-known modernist writers, Baudelaire and Woolf, using their literary flânerie to understand modernity from a twenty-first-century vantage point. The purpose of this thesis is to interrogate and reinterpret the notion of modernity: experience of modernity is that of spatiotemporal dislocation, a sense of in-betweenness that can be likened to the gap between a train and the platform. From the gap imagery, this thesis explores the paradoxical nature of modernity demonstrated in the writing of Baudelaire and Woolf. While existing studies have discussed the theme of flânerie extensively, the discourse is dominated by Benjaminian assumptions, which results in a visuo-centric bias. With recourse to Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, this thesis provides a more holistic understanding of the intertwining relationship between the flâneur, the city, the writer, and the text. Comparing the flâneur to a writerly device, this study explains how the flâneur offers the writer a novel perspective on the city. The aim of the writer's manipulation of the flâneur is to approach what I call line-scape. This notion designates an ideal literary horizon which the writer constantly endeavours to reach, to no avail. Various implications of line-scape are investigated, most notably through landscape painting tradition, to highlight the way in which the writer deploys the flâneur figure as an implied observer of line-scape. Translation theories and phenomenology-inspired studies are also incorporated into the research. Ultimately, flânerie as a clue to line-scape takes part in the current literary landscape, allowing for a revaluation of modernist writing, engendering novel interpretations of the act of walking, and renewing interest in modernity and the city.
Supervisor: Bourne-Taylor, Carole J. A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Flaneurs in literature ; Modernism (Literature) ; Comparative literature--English and French ; Cities and towns in literature