“I started making maps when I was small showing place, resources, where the enemy and where love lay. I did not know time adds to land. Events drift continually down, effacing landmarks, raising the level, like snow.

I have grown up. My maps are out of date. The land lies over me now. I cannot move. It is time to go.”
Alasdair Gray, Lanark

Marija Spirkovska

I’m a third-year PhD candidate at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture in Giessen, Germany. My current project looks into interplays between space, psychopathology, and embodiment in city literature. I find fascination in all things urban – architecture, public and private space, trajectories and travel, time and speed. My contributions here will be quite eclectic and often probing the affective and cognitive value of our everyday life in urban places – be they squares or dead-end streets, metropolises or suburbs. 

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” – “Or the question it asks you, forcing you to answer, like Thebes through the mouth of the Sphinx.”
― Italo Calvino, Invisible cities

Saskia Schomber

I am a research assistant at the Classics department of the Justus Liebig University of Giessen, currently working on my PhD project which deals with the aesthetics and poetics of late Greek epic poetry. My study of antique literature and culture has always been shaped by my broader interest in literary/cultural theory and modern literature. I am constantly looking for ways to bring ancient literature into dialogue with those fields. Thus, my contributions to this blog may touch upon this connection, but will also deal with urban life and art in general, especially the connection between feminism, art and the city.

“With cities, as with people, Mister Vandemar,” said Mr. Croup, fastidiously, “the condition of the bowels is all-important.”
― Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

Theresa Krampe

I am a doctoral researcher at the GCSC with a background in literary and cultural studies. Having always been passionate about the immersive storyworlds created in fiction, I’m interested in the ways different media tell stories, and in the ways representation in popular media and culture impacts ‘real-life’ perceptions of individuals, groups, and places. My main areas of expertise are videogame scholarship and transmedial narratology. For Random Walks, I am mainly writing about topics related to game culture and urban play. 

“I could walk for hours […] and never ‘get’ anywhere, looking at the way the city was put together, glimpsing its unofficial history here and there … I was on the lookout for residue, for texture, for accidents and encounters and unexpected openings.”
― Lauren Elkin, Flaneuse

Annika Stendebach

I’m a PhD candidate at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at the University of Giessen. My research project focuses on youth and their social spaces in urban and rural Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s. Even though most spaces were not specifically designed for the younger set of the population, I am interested in how youth made use of these spaces by techniques like placemaking. In my spare time I love to simply drift through new places to fully experience them. While exploring street art often catches my eye, so whatever I will produce for this blog will probably be viewed through either historical or street art-coloured glasses – and quite possibly also their intersection!

Associated Members and Contributors

Miruna Bacali

Miruna Bacali was recently awarded her doctoral degree in literature and cultural studies with the University of Giessen, Germany. Her thesis on “(Re)imagining Europe: Romanian Writers and their Self-Positioning after 1989” will be published in 2021. She is also a freelance translator for German, Romanian, and occasionally English.

Sarianna Kankkunen

Sarianna Kankkunen is a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki, working on her dissertation ”Harassing Habitats. Experienced Space in Maarit Verronen’s Prose Fiction”. Specializing in contemporary Finnish fiction, she’s interested in peripheral cities and urbanities touched by wilderness. She’s a member of the European PhDnet for Literary and Cultural Studies and writes a co-supervised thesis between the University of Helsinki and Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, which brought her to Germany for a year.

„Building and action interpenetrate in the courtyards, arcades, and stairways. In everything they preserve the scope to become a theatre of new, unforeseen constellations.“
― Walter Benjamin, „Naples“

Ruben Pfizenmaier

I am currently working on a PhD project on the effects of exercises and practices on subjectivity. This research interest also shapes my enthusiasm for urban aesthetics: What are we doing in urban spaces? And what is urban space doing with us? How does an urban landscape afford or restrain agency, behavior and activities — socially, aesthetically and politically?

Besides my scholarly work and my contribution to Random Walks, I am keeping myself busy in the field of independent book publishing. 

Jonas Wolf

I am a third-year PhD candidate at the Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. My academic focal points include contemporary music, digitalisation, intermediality, experimental music theatre and performativity. In this blog, I want to pursue my interest in acoustic ecology and shed light on the sonic qualities and affordances regarding social spaces in urban environments.