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Contemporary Writing and the Politics of Space

Borders, Networks, Escape Lines

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Edited By David Walton and Juan Antonio Suárez

This collective volume explores questions of space in contemporary literary texts from a range of theoretical perspectives. In addition to mapping the «spatial turn» in literary and cultural studies, this volume also brings together studies that apply spatial theory to the analysis of literary texts. Contributors tackle a broad range of themes, including how prose fiction addresses spaces of intimacy, abjection, espionage, discipline, madness, post-human identities, post-communist cities, the architecture of dystopia, and coercive medical practices. In turn, these themes open up analysis to key areas within contemporary literary and cultural criticism, including the study of sexuality, politics, power, and identity; the configuration of urban, regional, and national spaces and borders; and the delineation of private and public domains. The contributors reflect on diverse authors from English-speaking cultures and focus on a variety of genres and periods while acknowledging recent research in space studies and offering original contributions to what has now become a thriving field.

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2 Metropolitan Isolation in Dystopian Literature (Ángel Galdón Rodríguez)

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ÁNGEL GALDÓN RODRÍGUEZ

2    Metropolitan Isolation in Dystopian Literature

ABSTRACT

A significant number of widely known instances of dystopian literature place the action in urban scenarios. However, a thorough exploration of the setting evinces that not only are the citizens always controlled in a metropolitan context, there is also an external forbidden space beyond the city. This chapter explores the features of this separation in some of the best studied dystopian texts in English literature and in a selection of more recent titles from the twenty-first century and seeks to establish the causes and purpose of the trope of urban isolation in the genre.

Critics and historians have studied dystopian literature in a number of ways. Starting in the literary field, dystopianism has spread to other corners of popular culture, including comics and films. Therefore, not only have dystopian elements been studied in the frame of literary criticism and comparative literature, but also, due to their social influence, in the more transversal perspective of Cultural Studies. While it would be difficult to date the birth of the genre, it may be granted that dystopian fiction emerges around the beginning of twentieth century with a stable series of features. However, one cannot be oblivious of certain precedents like Jack London in the late nineteenth century – When the Sleeper Awakes (1899), for example – or even older works such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726).

Known especially...

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