“Flâneuse” in the Palimpsest City: Some Reflections of An Old-Style Comparatiste

This lecture discusses the literary persona of the Flâneuse, or female wanderer.
  • Patricia Merivale, English
    Coach House, Green College, UBC

    Tuesday, March 7, 5-6:30 pm, reception to follow
    in the series
    Senior Scholars' Series: The Passions that Drive Academic Life
  • This is the story of a female wanderer or flâneuse in the City of Books, who as a cloistered young scholar learnt to Compare the Literatures, then leapt over the (metaphorical) nunnery wall into four decades of professorial life at UBC. The discipline of Comparative Literature itself changed as those decades rolled by, but she remained an old-fashioned comparatiste (with a final "e"). The feminine gendering of that role is important for its political and professional implications, which had changed considerably by the year 2000, when the wanderer ran into another wall: mandatory retirement. Between those two walls in time, she read closely, compared texts and authors palimpsestically, through each other (a palimpsest is a text written over another still legible beneath it), then gathered books into such sub-genres as “elegiac romance,” by theme, convention, and narrative structure. Key example: the multifariously fascinating Metaphysical Detective Story, whose power lies partly in its intimacy with one of the most “popular” genres of all time. The detective-flâneur tail-jobs a suspect through mean city streets, to discover that he is tailing himself: Jekyll meets Hyde! See Poe, Auster, Egoyan, Borges, Modiano, Abe, Eco...
  • Unless otherwise noted, all of our lectures are free to attend and do not require registration.


March 7th, 2017 from  5:00 PM to  6:30 PM
Coach House
6201 Cecil Green Park Rd
Green College, UBC
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
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Speaker Series Senior Scholars' Series: The Passions that Drive Academic Life
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Short Speaker Patricia Merivale
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