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date: 26 September 2022

Planetary Urbanization and Contemporary Fictionlocked

Planetary Urbanization and Contemporary Fictionlocked

  • Jacob SouleJacob SouleEnglish, Auburn University


Literary critics have long observed a relationship between the novel and the city. In the 19th century, novelists responded to rapidly expanding urbanization with new generic forms and literary techniques to comprehend the city and its inhabitants. Contemporary fiction, while indebted to the legacy of prior literary engagements with the city, is nevertheless forced to invent new formal strategies for a vastly transformed urban environment. What confronts the 21st-century novelist is the expansion of the urban across the entirety of the planet, in a process that geographers have termed “planetary urbanization.” No longer confined only to the centers of major metropolises, the urban, these theorists argue, has superseded the boundaries of city and country, as well as those between national and global space. In response, novelists from a variety of contexts are reshaping the novel, adapting its genres and forms to seek to understand planetary urbanization—its historical precedents, the kinds of social relations it engenders, and its utopian and dystopian potentials. More than just setting or backdrop to the stories these writers tell, planetary urbanization transforms the formal possibilities of contemporary fiction across genres.


  • Fiction
  • 20th and 21st Century (1900-present)
  • Literary Theory

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