Literary Second Cities

Jason Finch, from Åbo Akademi University, has sent along details of a fascinating-sounding conference to be held next August in Turku, Finland: “Literary Second Cities”. The CFP follows below.


Literary Second Cities

The Second International Conference of the Helsinki Literature and the City Network (HLCN)

Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland), 20-21 August 2015

 The conference ‘Literary Second Cities’ invites papers on new approaches to the study of literary cities, smaller cities, and cities or portions of cities judged secondary or subordinate in any historical period or part of the world. See attachment or link below for the conference abstract. The deadline for the call for papers is 15 March 2015. The language of the conference is English. Please send proposals (length approximately 300 words) to

The keynote speakers are Professor Marc Brosseau, University of Ottawa and Professor Bart Keunen, University of Ghent. Professor Brosseau has written extensively on literary geographies. He is the author of Des romans-géographes (Paris, 1996). His most recent publications in English include the entry on ‘Literature’ in the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2009) and work on the literary geographies of Toronto, as well as on the operation of spatial traps in the fiction of Charles Bukowski. Professor Keunen is an internationally-renowned expert on literary urban studies and the head of the Ghent Urban Studies Team. Among his latest publications are journal articles and book chapters on landscape, narration and contemporary urban design in various settings, and the monograph Time and Narration: Chronotopes in Western Narrative Culture (Northwestern University Press, 2011).

Papers on subjects including, but not limited to, the following themes are welcome:


  • Literature defining the second city and which cities are to be understood as secondary
  • The literature of provincial cities and those which are distant from other urban centres or from today’s globalised megacities
  • The literature of cities and city districts that can be understood as shadow partners to major cities: the Left Bank of Paris; South London; Oakland to San Francisco; Salford to Manchester.
  • Scaling the city: comparisons between larger and smaller cities
  • Scaling the city: shifts between small-scale, localised views and overall perspectives
  • Scaling the city: topographic and synoptic views of cities in the light of work by Michel de Certeau, Andreas Huyssen and other theorists
  • Second cities in pre-modern literature
  • Second cities in African, Asian and Latin-American literatures
  • Literature defining the second city and which cities are to be understood as secondary
  • Regional urban literatures
  • Modes of definition of non-metropolitan or non-primary cities, for example Chicago or Birmingham as working city; Liverpool or Glasgow as primary port of the British Empire
  • Former capitals and declined or marginalized cities
  • Mobilities (spatial, identity-related) and secondary cities
  • Specialized cities (their function deriving from e.g. tourism, a harbour or airport, religion)


Particular sessions on urban literature and scale, Nordic second cities and modernism and literary second cities have already been proposed, and further sessions will be organized on the basis of the final applications.

During the conference, a round table discussion will be held to discuss the development of the network and the possibilities for further cooperation between international scholars in the field of urban literary studies. A peer-reviewed publication on the basis of selected conference papers is planned.

For more information contact:

Jason Finch, Åbo Akademi University (
Lieven Ameel, University of Helsinki (
Markku Salmela, University of Tampere (


Conference website:
Full conference abstract:
HLCN website:

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