CILM Project (CILM1)

The terrorist attacks of New York and Washington DC in 2001, the attacks in Madrid in 2004 and the London bombings in 2005 have exacerbated fears and fantasies of disaster which in the popular imagination have always been associated with the urban space. 9/11 fiction in the US, 11M novels in Spain and 7/7 narratives in the UK are now seen as part of a growing literary genre, through which writers from different countries have attempted to memorialize, reconstruct or, indeed, secure their cities. Although much critical attention has been given to the representation of the city in literature and in film, no systematic work has yet been devoted to the examination of how recent (in)securities are represented in urban fiction produced in both sides of the Atlantic.

Debates about security received an increasing amount of attention not only in the social sciences but also in philosophy from intellectuals such as Derrida and Habermas. Yet so far they have not been properly examined through a systematic literary perspective. Even though key concepts used by the social sciences in the study of urban security and surveillance such as the panopticism (Foucault), societies of control (Deleuze) state of exception (Agamben) and vision machine (Virilio) derived, to a great extent, from the fictional works of authors such as Kafka, Orwell, Bradbury and Burroughs, literary studies have been disengaged from the debates on the repercussions of security in contemporary society. By examining and systematizing much of what has been produced in literature in the last two decades, we expect literary and cultural studies will re-assert their contribution to the current debates on security.

CILM1 analyzes the growing number of city novels mentioned above, not in isolation, but as part of a larger corpus of urban narratives produced in both sides of the Atlantic since the early nineties. With the end of the Cold War and the emergence of highly mediatized international conflicts such as the Gulf War in 1991, writers grew particularly aware of the power of the image in the representation and construction of new geopolitical formations. From 1990 to 2010 we, thus, find a corpus of city novels which is increasingly conscious of the politicization of the image as well as of the intricate relation between fiction and (in)security. Our analysis carefully examines the impact of the media in literary production. We depict how images, messages and metaphors circulate between media (particularly visual media) and are reworked by contemporary writers in both sides of the Atlantic.

Since 2013 we have been developing three major lines of research (CILM2):

  • Comparing Home/lands: this line of research encourages comparisons between different national approaches to concepts of “home,” “land” and the continuum “homeland” taking into consideration specific historical contexts, the impact of colonial legacies in contemporary discourses, and the relation between the formation of new economic and political empires, the emergence of new borders and visions of the “domestic” and “domesticated” spaces as well as their multiple projections.
    Researchers: Cristina Tejero, Igor Furão, Roberto Falanga, Simone Tulumello, Susana Araújo.

  • Prison States and Narratives of Captivity: this thematic line explores the material and discursive construction of prisons and other carceral spaces and examines the historical, economic and psychological contexts which shape social status, conditions and jurisdiction of imprisoned subjects. Some researchers pay particular attention to different genres of carceral literature particularly those  produced by political prisoners. Others examine the relation between early and contemporary narratives of white western captivity.
    Researchers: Cristina Tejero, Elisa Scarragi, Daniel Lourenço, Susana Araújo.

  • Endangered Bodies: Genders and Genres of Insecurity: this line of research explores how gender and genre intersect in the creation of new narratives of insecurity but also observes how self-conscious approaches to genre by artists and writers have contributed to interrogate and critique notions of security and safety by highlighting how secure and safe spaces are often seen to be restricted to a specific “genus” or selected “genera,” reinforcing social categories and hierarchical classifications.
    Researchers: Ana Romão, Daniel Lourenço, Eva Dinis, Igor Furão Susana Araújo.

CILM Contacts

CILM - Centro de Estudos Comparatistas
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
Alameda da Universidade
1600 - 214 Lisboa

Telephone: (+351) 21 792 00 85
Fax: (+351) 21 796 00 63
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Website Credits

Conception (CILM1):

> Daniel Lourenço
> Alexandra Pinho
> Susana Araújo

Conception and Management (CILM2):

> Ana Romão
> Cristina Tejero
> Eva Dinis
> Igor Furão
> Susana Araújo

Design and Conception of the Logo:

> Bruno Paes
> Daniel Lourenço - conceptual guidelines

logo cilm 72CILM - City and (In)security in Literature and the Media

logo comparatistas hCentre for Comparative Studies

logo fctFundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia

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