Advertisement Hide. Contested Modernities in Chinese Literature. Front Matter Pages i-x. Pages Front Matter Pages It is often presented as a material manifestation of societies to come, in both their best and their worst dimensions—from the latest achievements in commerce, communication, and transportation to the worst excesses of squalor, inequality, and oppression.
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Utopian views of cities have become rare in science fiction in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, though they do still emerge occasionally. Both novels show how what seems to a twenty-first century reader like one of the most artificial and human-dominated environments on the planet can appear as an exhilaratingly natural habitat to off-worlders used to living in sealed-off domes, with the outside accessible only in spacesuits. Dystopian views of cities make up the overwhelming majority of futuristic urban literature and film.
And in the most extreme story pattern, a science fiction narrative that is by now over a hundred years old, charismatic metropolises need to be reduced to ashes and rubble before a new social order can emerge. Visions of London, New York, or Los Angeles destroyed, he argued, fulfilled a racist white fantasy of getting rid of the multiracial and multicultural urban masses.
In more recent scenarios of wholesale urban destruction, the fantasy arguably addresses a much broader desire to see modern society with its track record of complexity, inequality, and environmental damage erased in favor of simpler, more egalitarian, and more sustainable ways of life. Many other entries also foreground the persistence of economic inequality and racial discrimination, and they engage seriously with misguided uses of technology, environmental risk, and degraded nature, showing how these problems may continue and even become aggravated in the future.
But a great number of stories present far more optimistic visions of urban futures. Quite a few of them show ways in which future urban societies have adapted to changed ecologies and worked to address if not to eliminate the gaps between the rich and the poor. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the recurring theme of the flooded city. Since the turn of the millennium, the drowned city has increasingly come to be associated with climate change and rising sea levels, ecological processes that have given an old literary theme a new contemporary resonance. But not all of them envision it according to the familiar story template of the disaster movie—the end-of-the-world catastrophe that only a select few survive, often centrally featuring a nuclear family with a heroic father figure.
This hopeful vision also predominates in stories that envision future cities as multispecies environments that encourage new bonds between humans and nonhuman species. Stories such as these see ecological crisis as a gateway to a new awareness and a new attribution of value—both cultural and economic—to the natural world and nonhuman species.
Stories such as these put questions about urban nature in firmly into the context of environmental justice, the question of who gets to benefit from nature and who does not, and who is exposed to ecological risks and who is not. The contributors to this volume, then, reflect on a wide range of urban issues, from socioeconomic inequality, energy, water, transportation, and architecture all the way to population control, species extinction, and climate change. They offer vibrant visions of future cities, from tightly surveilled dystopias to urban eco-topias, sometimes democratically open and sometimes oligarchically closed.
As the best writers to have emerged from this contest, their stories link their reflections on a particular locale and specific individuals to global urban and ecological processes and crises. By offering a wide spectrum of visions of what urban futures at the end of the twenty-first century might look like, the stories collected here provide a vibrant inspiration to reimagine our cities even and especially in the face of the radical ecological changes that the twenty-first century has already begun to face.
Abbott, Carl. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Calthorpe, Peter. Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change. Washington, D. Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Davis, Mike. New York: Henry Holt. Heise, Ursula K. New York: Oxford University Press.
Jameson, Fredric. London: Verso. Lee, Kai N.
Freudenburg, and Richard B. New York: Norton. Solnit, Rebecca. Oakland: University of California Press. Suvin, Darko. Byron, George Gordon, Lord. The Oxford Authors. Jerome J. Calvino, Italo.
About Bill Phillips
Invisible Cities. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Cobbett, William. Rural Rides and Social Commentary Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Oxford: Oxford UP, De Quincey, Thomas. The Works of Thomas De Quincey. Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. The Oxford Illustrated Dickens. Irving, Washington.
Haksell Springer. Boston: Twayne, Jenstad, Jenelle, gen. The Map of Early Modern London. Johnson, Samuel. The Poems of Samuel Johnson. David Nichol Smith and Edward L.
Oxford: Clarendon P, Landon, Letitia. Selected Writings. Jerome McGann and Daniel Reiss. Ontario: Broadview P, McGann, Jerome J. James Chandler.
: Writing The City Urban Visions And Literary Modernism Literary Criticism And Cultural Theory
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, Robinson, Mary. The Works of Mary Robinson. Daniel Robinson. Wordsworth, William. William Wordsworth. Stephen Gill. Walter L. Reed 's primary field of interest is British Romanticism, but he has also written on the history and theory of the novel, literary theory in general with particular attention to the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin , and on the Bible as literature and the relations of literature and religion.
His current research deals with the construction of character in literature of the Romantic period and the theory and history of reading.