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13 July 2016 @ 05:38 pm
In a recent non-fic anthology, Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies (New York Univeristy Press), the editors tackle "metronormativity," a widespread belief that enlightenment and sanity (esp for LGBTQ folks) can only exist in cities. This concept seems very close to Sarah Schulman's definition of "urbanity," radical thought that comes from oppressed/marginalized people in cities, the only places where they can acquire enough critical mass to affect the cultural mainstream.

What hardly anyone seems to define is what (in this day and age) is a city? As compared to what else?

When I teach Wordsworth's "Lines Written Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802,"  I point out that London, England, considered one of the world's great cities even then, had a population of about 200,000. This is the size of the town/small city I live in: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Someone I met in New York once referred to it as "a very small town."

My questions: Do absolute numbers have any influence on contemporariy conceptions of a "city" as distinct from a "town" or a "village?" (Odd that folks from the industrialized West refer to "villages" in the "Third World," but rarely in their own countries.)

Does a town/city of 200,000 deserve to be conceived of differently depending on whether it is a bedroom community outside a larger metropolis, or (as in the case of Regina) one of a small group of large towns in a vast geographical space that draws people from the surrounding countryside?

Why does the realm of "Queer Studies" so rarely tackle these issues, considering that migration from a smaller town to a large city is widely considered a standard rite of passage for the young the queer, the inteligent and creative? (And in fact, this rite of passage is much older than many readers of "coming-out" narratives know. Sensitive young men were fleeing the provinces for the cities in the earliest bildungsromane of the 1700s.)
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Current Music: "We Built This City" by Starship