Mapping the Fictional and the Physical City: The Spatiotemporal and Cultural Identity of Osijek, Croatia


  • Sonja Novak Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Osijek
  • Angeliki Sioli Delft University of Technology




Because of its status as the fourth largest city in Croatia, Osijek is considered an intermediate European city. It is the administrative, economic and cultural centre of eastern Croatia, located on the River Drava, and has a rich, multicultural history that is reflected in its tangible and intangible urban identity. It is famous for its historical Fort Tvrđa and its European Avenue, the most representative street of Austro- Hungarian Secession architecture, but also for its specific sociolects that have been a part of its everyday life. Within the COST Action Writing Urban Places: New Narratives of the European City, Osijek was host to the doctoral training school ‘Urban Chronicles in Empirical Context’ (April 2022) and a short-term scientific mission to investigate the ‘other’ perspectives of the city (August 2022). As events that fostered the training, research, and the networking of international and national young researchers, doctoral candidates and members of academia, they helped to raise awareness of the notion of urban identity of a city as a complex of its physical (geography, architecture, infrastructure) and ephemeral manifestations (literature, culture, history) through time. As such, the events functioned as an outreach, linking the involved participants to their own responsibilities to the city as potential and future policymakers. The following chapter focuses on elements of the city of Osijek as presented through the literary point of view of local authors from the mid-twentieth to the early twenty-first century. 

Author Biographies

Sonja Novak, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Osijek

Sonja Novak – Leader WG2 – PhD, is currently assistant professor and chair of German Literature at the Department of German Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Osijek, Croatia, where she teaches History of German Literature and courses on Literary Theory at undergraduate (BA), graduate (MA) and postgraduate (PhD) level. She conducts her research in the humanities within the research field of Philology and her area of expertise is Literary Theory and History of Literature. Current research topics cover comparative literature, contemporary fiction and drama, with special emphasis on German and Croatian literature. She joined the COST Action Writing Urban Places to explore literary heterotopias. 

Angeliki Sioli, Delft University of Technology

Angeliki Sioli – Co-leader WG2 – PhD, is an assistant professor at the Chair of Methods of Analysis and Imagination at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She is a licensed architect, holding a PhD degree from the History and Theory Program of McGill University, Canada. Her research seeks connections between architecture and literature in the public realm of the city, focusing on aspects of embodied perception of place in the urban environment. She has edited the volume Reading Architecture: Literary Imagination and Architectural Experience (Routledge, 2018) and she is currently working on a collection of essays dedicated to sound and acoustic atmospheres of architecture. She is the co-leader of Working Group 2 in the COST Action Writing Urban Places, working along with the group’s members to create a strong, contemporary and interdisciplinary theoretical context for the study of mid-sized European cities. 


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Roland Barthes, ‘Semiology and the Urban’, in: Neil Leach (ed.), Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory (New York: Routledge, 1997), 158-172.

James Clifford Kent, Aesthetics and the Revolutionary City: Real and Imagined Havana (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Jasna Horvat, Bizarij (Zagreb: Ljevak, 2009).

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991).

Džerald Prins (Gerald Prince), Naratološki rečnik (Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik, 2011).

Nenad Rizvanović, Sat pjevanja (Zagreb: Profil, 2009).

Ivana Šojat-Kuči, Unterstadt (Zaprešić: Fraktura, 2009).

Deborah Stevenson, Cities and Urban Cultures (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003).

Vilma Vukelić, A Past Rescued from Oblivion (Victoria: FriesenPress, 2020).



How to Cite

Novak, S., & Sioli, A. (2023). Osijek: Mapping the Fictional and the Physical City: The Spatiotemporal and Cultural Identity of Osijek, Croatia. Writingplace, (8-9). https://doi.org/10.7480/writingplace.8-9.7261