HomeTransfers, transgressions, transformations

HomeTransfers, transgressions, transformations

Transfers, transgressions, transformations

Transferts, transgressions, transformations

Evolutions of the American city

Évolutions de la ville américaine

*  *  *

Published on Thursday, December 05, 2013


Ce colloque international se propose de croiser les approches disciplinaires sur la question des origines et celle de la transmission des identités urbaines. La problématique des transferts des savoirs, qui s’inscrit dans la continuité des colloques et des publications du laboratoire de recherche CRIT permettra d’élargir la réflexion sur la fluidité ou la rémanence de ces représenta. En effet, l’espace urbain a de tout temps accueilli, et parfois rejeté, souvent dans un paradoxe se nourrissant de ces ceux extrêmes, des populations venues d’horizons divers. Dans ce pays d’immigration que sont les États-Unis, le phénomène d’urbanisation est particulièrement propice à ce déploiement d’énergies, ainsi qu’aux brassages culturels et projets économiques et politiques. C’est alors un processus de savoirs entrecroisés qui au fil des années impose aux villes américaines leur géographie humaine si particulière et des spécificités propres.


The University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, is organizing an international conference on Transfers, Defiance, Alteration: Evolution in American Cities.This international conference aims to bring together researchers in history, literature, geography/urbanism, and sociology, who are interested in American Studies.

The conference will be held on 10 and 12 April 2014 at the University of Franche-Comté, Besançon.


Urban space has always welcomed, or, more rarely, rejected immigrant populations, often paradoxically appearing to draw on both postures simultaneously. In the United States, where immigration has played such an important role, the process of urbanization has given rise to an energetic enthusiasm, with the intermixing of ethnic groups each with their own cultural approaches and living conditions. Over the years, the intermingling of knowledge has brought American cities their particular specificities. Thus while the Hispanic community is well represented in Miami and Los Angeles, the two cities are quite different.

Whatever the size of the city (small town, megalopolis or edge city), the structure of the US city has often given rise to a variety of conflicting terms: centers, suburbs, streets, gated communities. This structure still contributes to a sense of belonging, of territorial claims and of course, of identity. The question is therefore how to define the representation of a city? What about its inhabitants' everyday lives? How can we represent the life of a city in specific neighborhoods (large or small)? These various perceptions go beyond any supposed regional identity (San Francisco vs Los Angeles). The presence of many ethnic groups that merge into a city or live in their own neighborhood is constantly raising questions. Since a city has its own particular existence in time and space, we must take into account those political issues that have created if not imposed a specific image of it. Another approach is that of geographical advantage. For Carey McWilliams for instance, Los Angeles' “imperial” status is a product of its rivalry with San Francisco. Geography can be associated with history allowing us to better understand a city's specificity. Was slavery responsible for the growth of New Orleans, or its geographical position in the Mississippi delta?

Experiences and representations have also been the source of inspiration for many theories in literature. Bertrand Westphal's geocritical work, for instance, explored the link between fictional  places and real ones as well as the impact of time on space perception. Furthermore, urban territories have always inspired artists, both local and foreign. Americans such as Tennessee Williams, Paul Auster, Upton Sinclair, Bernard Malamud, Dennis Lehane or Bret Easton Ellis have  narrated urban territories, but so have Butor, Baudrillard, Cendrars, Lorca (New York) or Mohamed Dib (Los Angeles). Movies are also involved in this process. From Midnight Cowboy (New York and its slummiest parts) to Bullitt with its various San Francisco landscapes, Hollywood film and television productions offer descriptions of numerous cities in TV series such as NYPD, Boston Legal, Miami Vice, CSI, Las Vegas, or The Sopranos.

The paradigm of the American city thus clearly depends on the interplay between given models and perceptions. Is there a perfect, ideal city? Shot through with memories, some of which may be painful, cities are wont to breathe new life into episodes not only from their past, but from their   dreams and aspirations, thus mapping reality onto fiction, as well as enriching their day-to-day experience with elements of imagination. Oscillating between these concepts, American cities constantly play on an ambivalent sense of both attraction and repulsion.

This symposium will analyze the transfer that takes place within the real, represented and constantly re-invented space of American cities. It will explore different approaches to the question of origins and the transmission of urban identities. The issue of knowledge transfer, it is hoped, will lead to a wide range of approaches to the development or stasis of such representations.

Submission guidelines

Propositions should be addressed no later than

December 31, 2013





Abstracts should not exceed 350 characters and include

  • The title of your paper
  • A short description
  • A short biography

Scientific Responsability

  • Pascal Smorag
  • Karolina Katsika
  • Daniel Peltzman


  • Salon Préclin - 30, rue Mégevand
    Besançon, France (25000)


  • Tuesday, December 31, 2013


  • États-Unis, urbanisme, géohistoire, représentations, littératures, identités culturelles, arts


  • Katsika Karolina
    courriel : katkarolina [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Karolina Katsika
    courriel : karolina [dot] katsika [at] univ-fcomte [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Transfers, transgressions, transformations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, December 05, 2013, https://doi.org/10.58079/ouu

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search