with Allyn West
October 7, 8
We are in the process of forming this unusual and exciting two day essay workshop in which Allyn West — former Cite magazine writer and current Gray Matters editor for the Houston Chronicle — will lead a workshop for essays you might find in a place like Gray Matters. They will concentrate on placemaking, in the spirit of the literary flâneur.
As described by Bijan Steven in the Paris Review: “The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart. When Walter Benjamin brought Baudelaire’s conception of the flâneur into the academy, he marked the idea as an essential part of our ideas of modernism and urbanism. For Benjamin, in his critical examinations of Baudelaire’s work, the flâneur heralded an incisive analysis of modernity, perhaps because of his connotations: ‘[the flâneur] was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism,’ as a 2004 article in the American Historical Review put it. Since Benjamin, the academic establishment has used the flâneur as a vehicle for the examination of the conditions of modernity—urban life, alienation, class tensions, and the like.”
Allyn West is an editor and writer at the Houston Chronicle. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Rice Design Alliance and Swamplot. He graduated from the University of Houston in 2015 with a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing.