Open Cities Reading Circle: The Urban Flâneur/Flâneuse with Prof. Dr. Frank Kessler


On Tuesday, June 25th, the Open Cities Platform organizes a Reading Circle on the urban flâneur/flâneuse.The flâneur has become an emblematic figure for authors writing on the visual experience of the modern city in the 19th century. The flâneur was often a man of leisure who strolls the modern city to observe its street culture. A major reference here is Walter Benjamin's essay on the French poet Charles Baudelaire, where this figure plays a pivotal role in exploring the Parisian crowd and the effects of modern life on city dwellers. Another major reference is Georg Simmel's text on the modern metropolis which looks at the experience of the modern city several decades after Baudelaire. In Simmel’s text the flaneur re-emerges as the blasé another metropolitan subjectivity that reflects on the process of individualization that reshaped the city.

We suggest that, in preparation, you read one text beforehand that is: Anne Friedberg's chapter “The Mobilized and the Virtual Gaze in Modernity: Flâneur/Flâneuse” which is part of her 1993 book “Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern”. In this text, Friedberg reflects on this figure of the observer of modernity. She emphasizes the gendered-ness of the figure and introduces the flâneuse as a counterpart. For those wanting to dive deeper into the topic a chapter from Walter Benjamin's essay on Baudelaire and a new translation of Simmel's text (the introduction to the translation by John D Boy is short and instructive). As an example of the legacy of Friedberg's work you can have a look at Jiyoung Suh's article on the flâneuse in colonial Seoul in the 1920s and 1930s.

This reading circle is designed and moderated by Prof. dr. Frank Kessler, chair of Media History. He is a co-president of DOMITOR, the international association for research on early cinema and one of the founders of KINtop. Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des frühen Films. His research interests are focused on the emergence of cinema as a mass medium and cultural form, and on 19th-century visual media. In his latest research projects he has worked on the role of the optical lantern as a medium for knowledge transmission in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Begindatum en -tijd
Einddatum en -tijd
Janskerkhof 2-3, room 2.20, Utrecht
Meer informatie
You can register for this reading circle and access the readings via this link.