Critical Perspectives on the European Mediasphere. The intellectual work of the 2011 European media and communication doctoral summer school.

Title chapter: Dragons and Arcades: Towards a Discursive Construction of the Flâneur
Author: Ilija Tomanic Trivundža
Keywords: flaneur, discourse, gaze, theory, observation
Abstract: This chapter aims to challenge the notoriously ellusive identity of the flâneur through a ‘discursive turn’ by focusing on the articulation of the social practice itself, on his constitutive activity – flânerie. This focus enables one to move away from some of the hotly debated issues on the flâneur as a (sociological) subject, such as the continuous and painstaking attempts to locate the historical figure of the flâneuse in the liminal public spaces of the 19th century. The discursive shift from the flâneur to flânerie enables us to transcend the limitations of conceptualising the flâneur as a 19th-century social phenomenon. By claiming that this ‘discursive turn’ enables us to go beyond the debate on the (non)existence of the 19th-century flâneuse, I do not mean to downplay the importance of understanding power-gender relations and their historic articulations, but merely to suggest that accepting Wolff’s (2008) argument on the nonexistence of the 19th-century flâneuse should not automatically imply the nonexistence of the flâneuse as such, for we can find this elusive female observer in present-day practices such as photoblogs, where the flâneuse proliferates, if not dominates the production of contemporary vernacular visual culture.
Click here to download full chapter [pdf]