Decentring the Flâneur: global histories of walking the early modern city

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Architecture Cultures, Global Early Modern: Connecting Cultures, Research Forum

Decentring the Flâneur: global histories of walking the early modern city

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London

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topographical map

Detail, map of Istanbul, in Seyyid Lokman, Hünernāme, vol. 1, Topkapı Palace Museum Library H 1523, fol. 159r, ca. 1585.


  • Professor Çiğdem Kafescioğlu - Boğaziçi University, Istanbul
  • R. Aslıhan Aksoy-Sheridan - TED University, Ankara
  • David Karmon - Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Saundra Weddle - Drury University, Springfield, Missouri
  • Peyvand Firouzeh - University of Sydney
  • Nuno Grancho - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, ISCTE-IUL
  • Marika Takanishi Knowles - University of St Andrews
  • Marie Yasunaga - University of Amsterdam
  • Stephen Whiteman - Courtauld Institute of Art

Organised by

  • Dr Sussan Babaie - The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Professor Richard Wrigley - History of Art, University of Nottingham
£25 General Admission, £15 Students & Concessions, Advance booking required

Ideas about the origins and context for the flâneur have been tied to Paris, and viewed through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. While Benjaminian orthodoxy has increasingly been challenged, the association of the flâneur with modernity and European cities has continued to dominate studies of its variant forms. This conference aims to de-centre the concept and expand such critique by identifying and analysing forms of pedestrian observation in the early modern period taking note of the fact that strolling, seeing and being seen—and ‘walking the city’—emerged well before Europe and the 19th century in urban experiences in cities like Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi and Beijing.



Please note that the conference takes place at The Courtauld’s Vernon Square campus


FRIDAY, November 15, 2019

16:30 – 17:00




Opening remarks: Sussan Babaie and Richard Wrigley


17:30 – 18:30

Keynote Address: Modalities of urban experience and a lexicon of vision: Walking-viewing early modern Istanbul

Professor Çiğdem Kafescioğlu (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)


18:30 – 19:30

Drinks reception


SATURDAY, November 16, 2019, 9:30 – 17:00

9:00-9:30am: Registration


Morning Session:


Aslıhan Aksoy-Sheridan (TED University, Ankara)

An Ottoman Armenian flâneur in early modern Istanbul: Eremia Chelebi Komurjian capturing the seventeenth-century Ottoman capital    



David Karmon (Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts)

Pavements and pedestrian movement in the Renaissance: Venice and Rome



Saundra Weddle (Drury University, Springfield, Missouri)

Visualizing and mobilizing sex work on Venice’s canals



Discussion #1



Coffee break



Peyvand Firouzeh (University of Sydney)

Walking Yazd: Historicism, urban planning, and imperial connectivity



Nuno Grancho (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, ISCTE-IUL)

Spatial mobility in the early modern colonial city of Diu



Discussion #2






Marika Takanishi Knowles (University of St Andrews)

A guide to walking in Yoshiwara (1678): Hishikawa Moronobu’s flâneur



Marie Yasunaga (University of Amsterdam)

Exploring urban space of Edo through Hasegawa Settan’s illustrations of Edo Meisho Zue



Discussion #3



Comfort Break



Concluding remarks: Stephen Whiteman (Courtauld Institute of Art)



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