© 2016

Walking and the Aesthetics of Modernity

Pedestrian Mobility in Literature and the Arts

  • Klaus Benesch
  • François Specq

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Poetics

  3. Performance

  4. Pathology

  5. Politics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 227-227

About this book


This book gathers together an array of international scholars, critics, and artists concerned with the issue of walking as a theme in modern literature, philosophy, and the arts. Covering a wide array of authors and media from eighteenth-century fiction writers and travelers to contemporary film, digital art, and artists’ books, the essays collected here take a broad literary and cultural approach to the art of walking, which has received considerable interest due to the burgeoning field of mobility studies. Contributors demonstrate how walking, far from constituting a simplistic, naïve, or transparent cultural script, allows for complex visions and reinterpretations of a human’s relation to modernity, introducing us to a world of many different and changing realities.


Mobility Studies Modernity Aesthetics of Walking Pedestrian Modernism

Editors and affiliations

  • Klaus Benesch
    • 1
  • François Specq
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of English and American StudiesLMU MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon & CNRS (IHRIM)LyonFrance

About the editors

Klaus Benesch is Professor of English and American Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. He is the author of Romantic Cyborgs: Authorship and Technology in the American Renaissance.


François Specq is Professor of American Literature and Culture at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, France.

Bibliographic information


“From Rousseau’s reveries of a solitary walker in nature to Baudelaire’s curious Parisian flâneur, the eminently human act of walking has inspired writing, art, and reflection in a wide range of registers. The stimulating essays collected here approach ‘pedestrian mobility’ in its relationship to creativity in modern case studies from De Quincey and Diderot to Colm Tóibín, Patricia Lefèbvre’s Femme qui marche and Gus Van Sant’s ‘Walking Trilogy.’ This book makes readers keenly aware of whole new ways of understanding a most common human activity.” (Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English and Professor of African-American Studies, Harvard University, USA and author of “The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s”)

“A fascinating collection of essays that will be indispensable to scholars and students of modernism and cultural studies.  Building on the new consciousness of place, the contributors explore walking as a model for literary structure, and as a way of discovering, dreaming, remembering, and forgetting. The volume has an impressive range, from Baudelaire and Thoreau to Walter Benjamin, Edith Wharton, Gary Snyder, and Jennifer Egan, and including film and photography as well. Together, the essays validate powerfully the editors’ argument for the centrality of mobility studies to modernism.” (Miles Orvell, Professor of English, Temple University, USA and author of “The Death and Life of Main Street: Small Towns in American Memory Space, and Community”)