Brooklyn Neighbourhoods in the Making: For an Urbanized New York Consciousness in the Literature of Gentrification

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A global and globalizing city, New York represents a benchmark city in the historical and political geographies of (trans)national urbanization, in urban knowledge production as well as in the production of socio-spatially engaged multi-/trans-media urban representations, of which literary representation needs to be a part. While it acknowledges a critical pull away from first-tier cities like New York, this encyclopedia article makes the case for the persistence of an urbanized New York consciousness in scaled down, neighborhood-based cultural responses to contemporary processes of urbanization (like gentrification), responses that require critical attention as they unravel alternative stories of urban change. By aligning urban fictions to mobilizing trends in the multimedia documentation of the city’s changes, the article advances the notion of the politics of capture in, and via, urbanized cultural production that mediates an ideologically and historically modulated engagement with New York, mindful of urbanization processes, scalar socio-spatial practices, and power structures. From this critical urban position, the piece zooms in on Brooklyn neighborhoods and offers a fine-grained, “resistant reading” of two novels, A Meaningful Life (L. J. Davis, 1971) and The Fortress of Solitude (Jonathan Lethem, 2003), employed as illustrative case studies for a proposed urbanized literary hermeneutic. The article closes with a methodological corollary whereby the process underpinning this transdisciplinary hermeneutic is made transparent for further use in urban literary studies research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies
EditorsJeremy Tambling
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-62592-8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2022


  • New York City
  • Brooklyn
  • Gentrification
  • Neighbourhood
  • Urbanised Literary Hermeneutic
  • Critical Urban Studies


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