Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Anthony Purdy


The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a revival of critical debates around, on the one hand, Walter Benjamin’s understanding offlânerie, the practice of street walking in the nineteenth-century metropolis, and on the other hand the existence of a female counterpart for the (usually male)flâneur. Most of the analyses, coming from Janet Wolff, Elizabeth Wilson, Susan Buck-Morss, and Anne Friedberg, but also the contributors to Keith Tester’s critical anthology The Flâneur (1994) returned to Baudelairian and Benjaminian depictions offlânerie and revealed ways in which the practice and its participants (male and female alike) were still significant for understanding a highly commodified urban existence.

My thesis is founded on Wilson’s and Deborah Parson’s argument that we can rightfully consider theflâneuse as an important participant in the life in the metropolis even if this implies a reading of the city that is more metaphorical than purely sociological. While most arguments focus on the image of the flâneuse as prostitute or shopper, my thesis proposes the image of the middle-class female intellectual ■.\

(ethnographer, artist, sociologist) as a more fitting counterpart to the flâneur. Miriam Henderson, the protagonist in Dorothy Richardson’s series Pilgrimage, and Régine Robin’s narrator in Mégapolis. Les derniers pas duflâneur, illustrate the concepts of modem and postmodem flâneuse respectively and constitute useful instruments for interrogating modem and postmodem urban life seen from the perspective of a woman flâneuring on the streets of the big cities.



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