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Grahl, Frances (2021) Mapping the Migrant City: Presentations of the Migrant Experience in the Contemporary European Novel 1995-2015. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a comparative investigation into contemporary novels of migration to three European capital cities: London, Paris and Rome. It uses a range of approaches to analyse the tripartite relationship between the novel, the city and the lived experience of migration, arguing that literature of migration maps and re-maps the city, just as migrants themselves chart, challenge and change the ways in which the city perceives itself. It provides a wide overview of selected novels of migration to the city since 1995, with close readings of those most relevant to urban space and migration. It does this by looking at four aspects of urban experience within literature: firstly, the use and ownership of public space; secondly, encounters with friends and strangers; thirdly, urban domestic space and the multiple constructions of ‘home’; and lastly the work carried out by migrants to challenge dominant narratives of the city’s history, memory, and geography. While it situates itself within comparative literary studies, the thesis borrows its understanding of urban public space from literary geography, and investigates discourses of power in the city by charting the ways in which migrants disrupt the continuity of the established order. Moreover, it uses a comparative framework of three major European capital cities in French, English and Italian to demonstrate literary parallels and influences across the region, situating the three geographic fields into a historicised, transnational and postcolonial context.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: novel of migration; migration literature; contemporary novel; comparative literature; literary geography; Paris; Rome; London; multiculturalism and diversity; migrant lived experience; urban space; situated history and memory; construction of migrant space; borders and literature.
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Wen-Chin Ouyang
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2021 14:15

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