Mr Julien Clin

Research project: Visions of Home: The Poetics of Heimat in the Cosmopolitan City

Abstract

My research looks at the poetics of Heimat in London writing of the metamodern moment (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010). More than "home," Heimat is a geographically anchored notion of belonging, where an interplay of self, space, histories and myths offers a communal, place-based identity (cf. Blickle 2002). As such, it depends on a notion of place that is akin to a "thirdspace" in that it brings together "subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined" (Soja 1996). Unlike Soja's, however, Heimat is a thirdspace that is bounded. Supported by the philosopher Jeff Malpas (1999; 2012), the geographer Geraldine Pratt (999) and the economist of the Commons, Elinor Ostrom (2005), boundaries are seen as inclusive, generative and even necessary for a successful commons.

Heidegger's concept of the "fourfold" (Geviert) (cf. Malpas 2008) provides an interesting approach to the boundaries of Heimat, whose elements are: Earth (space and physical locality), Sky (time and palimpsests), Mortals (specificity through lived experience) and Gods (myths and ethos of community). A place-based identity is found through an active engagement with, and a revocable consent to share, these boundaries. My thesis will explore each of the four elements—Earth, Sky, Mortals and Gods—through a geocritical (Tally and Westphal 2011) analysis of contemporary London writing, including Caleb Femi, Zadie Smith, Guy Gunaratne, Moshin Hamid, Kae Tempest, Iain Sinclair and others' works, whilst also situating the works in their material, architectural contexts.

Biography

My first degree was a Magister Artium in American and Romance Philology from the University of Tübingen (Germany), where I produced a thesis on "The Art of Montage in John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer." My focus then was on the subtle, implicit political message conveyed by the technique and how it contributed to the representation of the city.

After several years in broadcast journalism, during which I worked as a producer and foreign correspondent, I obtained a Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford (Somerville College). I continue to be interested in long-form and radio journalism as well as travel writing.

Alongside my doctoral research, I also engage with Place and Urbanism as part of the PlaceLabs Collect (www.placelabs.co.uk) and through my own creative writing. A project called Verbacity, to map new place writing in London, is in the pipes.

Areas of research interest

  • English Literature
  • Contemporary London Writing
  • Geocriticism
  • Narrative, Place & Imagination
  • Urbanism
  • Heimat & Home

Qualifications

  • Magister Artium, American & Romance Philology, University of Tübingen (Germany)
  • Master's in Creative Writing, Somerville College, University of Oxford

Funding or awards received

  • AHRC/Techne