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City Memory, City History: Urban Nostalgia, The Colossus of New York , and Late-Twentieth-Century Historical Fiction

City Memory, City History: Urban Nostalgia, The Colossus of New York , and Late-Twentieth-Century... TAMAR KATZ No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, That used to be Munsey's, or That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge. . . . You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now. Colson Whitehead, "City Limits" take my epigraph from the opening essay of Colson Whitehead's 2003 collection, The Colossus of New York: A City in Thirteen Parts. The passage and the essay it appears in offer a suggestive, because counterintuitive, account of urban identity at the turn of the twenty-first century: they propose that while our sense of urban belonging may register in many ways-- through the familiarity of daily routines, through communities of work and leisure, and through the spaces in which we gather--we acquire a truly urban identity at the moment we react to change by remembering a vanished city. Whitehead's formulation suggests that we rethink how cities work on the people who live there; his account of how memory constitutes urban identity presses us in particular to reconsider the importance of both loss and the past for urban life. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

City Memory, City History: Urban Nostalgia, The Colossus of New York , and Late-Twentieth-Century Historical Fiction

Contemporary Literature , Volume 51 (4) – Apr 2, 2011

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

TAMAR KATZ No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, That used to be Munsey's, or That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge. . . . You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now. Colson Whitehead, "City Limits" take my epigraph from the opening essay of Colson Whitehead's 2003 collection, The Colossus of New York: A City in Thirteen Parts. The passage and the essay it appears in offer a suggestive, because counterintuitive, account of urban identity at the turn of the twenty-first century: they propose that while our sense of urban belonging may register in many ways-- through the familiarity of daily routines, through communities of work and leisure, and through the spaces in which we gather--we acquire a truly urban identity at the moment we react to change by remembering a vanished city. Whitehead's formulation suggests that we rethink how cities work on the people who live there; his account of how memory constitutes urban identity presses us in particular to reconsider the importance of both loss and the past for urban life.

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Apr 2, 2011

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