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The Abject Heterotopia: Le Città Invisibili and ‘Junkspace’

Li, Xiaofan Amy (2016) The Abject Heterotopia: Le Città Invisibili and ‘Junkspace’. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 52 (1). pp. 70-80. ISSN 0015-8518. (doi:10.1093/fmls/cqv052) (KAR id:58338)


This article explores and compares the spaces of abjection in Italo Calvino's Le città invisibili and the ‘Junkspace’ of contemporary cities, as theorized by the architect Rem Koolhaas. Depicted as being simultaneously devastating and scatological as well as exhilarating and aesthetic, abject space is revealed to be paradoxical and disturbing, a formlessness that puts place and identity into suspense. Here, Foucault's notion of heterotopia serves as a perspective from which the nature of this abject space can be better understood. The characteristics of heterotopia – such as heterogeneity, disorientation, fragmentation – are reflected in both the fictional space of Le città invisibili and the concretely lived space of Koolhaasian architecture. But in addition, the abject heterotopias in Calvino and Koolhaas rethink and challenge the Foucauldian heterotopia, for they break down Foucault's oppositions between heterotopia and utopia, offering greater critical potentiality and even utopian implications.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/fmls/cqv052
Uncontrolled keywords: abject, heterotopia, Calvino, Le città invisibili, Junkspace, Rem Koolhaas, Foucault, comparative literature
Subjects: N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN851 Comparative Literature
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance Literature > PQ4001 Italian Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Xiaofan Amy Li
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 19:52 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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