front cover of Archipelagoes
Insular Fictions from Chivalric Romance to the Novel
Simone Pinet
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Archipelagoes examines insularity as the space for adventure in the Spanish book of chivalry, much like the space of the forest in French chivalric romance. In this innovative work, Simone Pinet explores the emergence of insularity as a privileged place for the location of adventure in Spanish literature in tandem with the cartographic genre of the isolario.

Pinet looks closely at Amadís de Gaula and the Liber insularum archipelagi as the first examples of these genres. Both isolario and chivalric romance (libros de caballerías) make of the island a flexible yet cohesive framework that becomes intrinsic to the construction of their respective genres. The popularity of these forms throughout the seventeenth century in turn bears witness to the numerous possibilities the archipelagic structure offered, ultimately taken up by the grand genres of each discipline—the atlas and the novel.

Moving from verbal descriptions to engravings and tapestry weavings, and from the chivalric politics and ethics proposed in the Amadís de Gaula to the Insula Barataria episode in Don Quixote, Pinet’s analysis of insularity and the use of the island structure reveals diverging roles for fiction, illuminating both the emergence of the novel and contemporary philosophical discussion on fiction.

front cover of Ecospatiality
A Place-Based Approach to American Literature
Lowell Wyse
University of Iowa Press, 2021

Ecospatiality explores modern and contemporary American prose literature through the lens of place, showing how authors like William Least Heat-Moon, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, and Leslie Marmon Silko represent and reimagine real places in the world and the human-environment relationships therein. Building on the work of scholars in geography, sociology, ecocriticism, and geocriticism, this book articulates the theory of ecospatiality: an understanding of place as simultaneously spatial, ecological, and historical.

In our current historical moment, which is characterized by ongoing ecological collapse and a not-unrelated increase in social disorder, few issues are more urgent than the human relationship with our environments. Whether we characterize this new epoch as the climate change era or the Anthropocene, we can no longer ignore the fact that the places we live are rapidly changing in response to economic and environmental pressures. Rather than thinking of place as a neutral site for social interaction, we should recognize how it underpins and intertwines with human experience.

Fortunately, literature can help us think through how place operates. Lowell Wyse shows that texts can be understood as works of literary cartography. Focusing on works of nonfiction and fiction whose primary settings are on the North American continent, Ecospatiality demonstrates how these narratives rely on realistic literary geography to invoke, and sometimes retell, important aspects of environmental history within particular communities and bioregions.

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An Errant Eye
Poetry and Topography in Early Modern France
Tom Conley
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
An Errant Eye studies how topography, the art of describing local space and place, developed literary and visual form in early modern France. Arguing for a "new poetics of space" ranging throughout French Renaissance poetry, prose, and cartography, Tom Conley performs dazzling readings of maps, woodcuts, and poems to plot a topographical shift in the late Renaissance in which space, subjectivity, and politics fall into crisis. He charts the paradox of a period whose demarcation of national space through cartography is rendered unstable by an ambient world of printed writing.

This tension, Conley demonstrates, cuts through literature and graphic matter of various shapes and forms-hybrid genres that include the comic novel, the emblem-book, the eclogue, sonnets, and the personal essay. An Errant Eye differs from historical treatments of spatial invention through Conley's argument that the topographic sensibility is one in which the ocular faculty, vital to the description of locale, is endowed with tact and touch.

Detailed close readings of Apian, Rabelais, Montaigne, and others empower the reader with a lively sense of the topographical impulse, deriving from Conley's own "errant eye," which is singularly discerning in attentiveness to the ambiguities of charted territory, the contours of woodcut images, and the complex combinations of word and figure in French Renaissance poetry, emblem, and politics.

front cover of Heartless Immensity
Heartless Immensity
Literature, Culture, and Geography in Antebellum America
Anne Baker
University of Michigan Press, 2010
As the size of the United States more than doubled during the first half of the nineteenth century, a powerful current of anxiety ran alongside the well-documented optimism about national expansion. Heartless Immensity tells the story of how Americans made sense of their country’s constantly fluctuating borders and its annexation of vast new territories. Anne Baker looks at a variety of sources, including letters, speeches, newspaper editorials, schoolbooks, as well as visual and literary works of art. These cultural artifacts suggest that the country’s anxiety was fueled primarily by two concerns: fears about the size of the nation as a threat to democracy, and about the incorporation of nonwhite, non-Protestant regions. These fears had a consistent and influential presence until after the Civil War, functioning as vital catalysts for the explosion of literary creativity known as the “American Renaissance,” including the work of Melville, Thoreau, and Fuller, among others.
Building on extensive archival research as well as insights from cultural geographers and theorists of nationhood, Heartless Immensity demonstrates that national expansion had a far more complicated, multifaceted impact on antebellum American culture than has previously been recognized. Baker shows that Americans developed a variety of linguistic strategies for imagining the form of the United States and its position in relation to other geopolitical entities. Comparisons
to European empires, biblical allusions, body politic metaphors, and metaphors derived from science all reflected—and often attempted to assuage—fears that the nation was becoming either monstrously large or else misshapen in ways that threatened cherished beliefs and national self-images. 
Heartless Immensity argues that, in order to understand the nation’s shift from republic to empire and to understand American culture in a global context, it is first necessary to pay close attention to the processes by which the physical entity known as the United States came into being. This impressively thorough study will make a valuable contribution to the fields of American studies and literary studies.

Anne Baker is Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina State University.

front cover of A Hundred Acres of America
A Hundred Acres of America
The Geography of Jewish American Literary History
Hoberman, Michael
Rutgers University Press, 2019
2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Jewish writers have long had a sense of place in the United States, and interpretations of American geography have appeared in Jewish American literature from the colonial era forward. But troublingly, scholarship on Jewish American literary history often limits itself to an immigrant model, situating the Jewish American literary canon firmly and inescapably among the immigrant authors and early environments of the early twentieth century. In A Hundred Acres of America, Michael Hoberman combines literary history and geography to restore Jewish American writers to their roles as critical members of the American literary landscape from the 1850s to the present, and to argue that Jewish history, American literary history, and the inhabitation of American geography are, and always have been, contiguous entities.  

front cover of Mapping Shakespeare's World
Mapping Shakespeare's World
Peter Whitfield
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015
Shakespeare never set a play in his own Elizabethan London. From the castle in Elsinore where Hamlet avenges his father’s death to Cleopatra’s Alexandria at the height of the Roman Empire to the seaport town in Cyprus where we await the arrival of Othello, each of Shakespeare’s plays is set in a time or space remote from his primary audience. Why is this? How much did the Bard and his contemporaries know about the foreign lands his characters often inhabit? What expectations did an audience have if the curtains rose on a play which claimed to take place in ancient Troy or the Pyrenean kingdom of Navarre in northern Spain?
Mapping Shakespeare’s World explores these questions with surprising results. It has often been said that setting is irrelevant to Shakespeare’s plays—that, wherever they are set, their enduring appeal lies in their ability to speak to broad questions of human nature. Peter Whitfield shows that, on the contrary, many of Shakespeare’s locations were carefully chosen for their ability to convey subtle meanings an Elizabethan audience would have picked up on and understood. Through the use of paintings, drawings, contemporary maps and geographical texts, Whitfield suggests answers to such questions as where Illyria was located, why The Merry Wives of Windsor could only have taken place in Windsor, and how two utterly different comedies—The Comedy of Errors and Pericles, Prince of Tyre—both came to take place in ancient Ephesus.
Just when one might think there was nothing more to be said about Shakespeare, with Mapping Shakespeare’s World, Whitfield offers a fascinating new point of view.

front cover of Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative
Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative
Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet
Marie-Laure Ryan, Kenneth Foote, and Maoz Azaryahu
The Ohio State University Press, 2016
Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative: Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet by Marie-Laure Ryan, Kenneth Foote, and Maoz Azaryahu offers a groundbreaking approach to understanding how space works in narrative and narrative theory and how narratives work in real space. Thus far, space has traditionally been viewed by narratologists as a backdrop to plot. This study argues that space serves important but under-explored narrative roles: It can be a focus of attention, a bearer of symbolic meaning, an object of emotional investment, a means of strategic planning, a principle of organization, and a supporting medium.
Space intersects with narrative in two principal ways: ‘‘Narrating space’’ considers space as an object of representation, while ‘‘spatializing narrative’’ approaches space as the environment in which narrative is physically deployed. The inscription of narrative in real space is illustrated by such forms as technology-supported locative narratives, street names, and historical/heritage site and museum displays. While narratologists are best equipped to deal with the narration of space, geographers can make significant contributions to narratology by drawing attention to the spatialization of narrative. By bringing these two approaches together—and thereby building a bridge between narratology and geography—Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative yields both a deepened understanding of human spatial experience and greater insight into narrative theory and poetic forms.

front cover of Nineteenth-Century Geographies
Nineteenth-Century Geographies
The Transformation of Space from the Victorian Age to the American Century
Thomas, Ronald R
Rutgers University Press, 2002

 The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented discovery and exploration throughout the globe, a period when the “blank spaces” of the earth were systematically investigated, occupied, and exploited by the major imperial powers of Western Europe and the United States. The lived experience of space was also changing in dramatic ways for people as a result of new developments in technology, communication, and transportation. As a result, the century was characterized by a new and intense interest in place, both local and global.

The collection is comprised of seventeen essays from various disciplines organized into four areas of geographic concern. The first, “Time Zones,” examines several ways that place gets expressed as time during the period, how geography becomes history. A second grouping, “Commodities and Exchanges,” explores the role of geographic origin as it was embodied in particular objects, from the souvenir map to imported tea. The set of essays on “Domestic Fronts” moves the discussion from the public to the private sphere by looking at how domestic space became defined in terms of its boundary with the foreign. The final section, “Orientations,” takes up the changing relations of bodies, identities, and the spaces they inhabit and through which they moved. The collection as a whole also traces the development of the discipline of geography with its different institutional and political trajectories in the United States and Great Britain.


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Places for Dead Bodies
By Gary J. Hausladen
University of Texas Press, 2000

From Tony Hillerman's Navajo Southwest to Martin Cruz Smith's Moscow, an exotic, vividly described locale is one of the great pleasures of many murder mysteries. Indeed, the sense of place, no less than the compelling character of the detective, is often what keeps authors writing and readers reading a particular series of mystery novels.

This book investigates how "police procedural" murder mysteries have been used to convey a sense of place. Gary Hausladen delves into the work of more than thirty authors, including Tony Hillerman, Martin Cruz Smith, James Lee Burke, David Lindsey, P. D. James, and many others. Arranging the authors by their region of choice, he discusses police procedurals set in America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Europe, Moscow, Asia, and selected locales in other parts of the world, as well as in historical places ranging from the Roman Empire to turn-of-the-century Cairo.


front cover of Shakespearean Territories
Shakespearean Territories
Stuart Elden
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Shakespeare was an astute observer of contemporary life, culture, and politics. The emerging practice of territory as a political concept and technology did not elude his attention. In Shakespearean Territories, Stuart Elden reveals just how much Shakespeare’s unique historical position and political understanding can teach us about territory. Shakespeare dramatized a world of technological advances in measuring, navigation, cartography, and surveying, and his plays open up important ways of thinking about strategy, economy, the law, and colonialism, providing critical insight into a significant juncture in history. Shakespeare’s plays explore many territorial themes: from the division of the kingdom in King Lear, to the relations among Denmark, Norway, and Poland in Hamlet,  to questions of disputed land and the politics of banishment in Richard II. Elden traces how Shakespeare developed a nuanced understanding of the complicated concept and practice of territory and, more broadly, the political-geographical relations between people, power, and place. A meticulously researched study of over a dozen classic plays, Shakespearean Territories will provide new insights for geographers, political theorists, and Shakespearean scholars alike.

front cover of Toni Morrison and the Geopoetics of Place, Race, and Be/longing
Toni Morrison and the Geopoetics of Place, Race, and Be/longing
Marilyn Sanders Mobley
Temple University Press, 2024
Toni Morrison’s readers and critics typically focus more on the “what” than the “how” of her writing. In Toni Morrison and the Geopoetics of Place, Race, and Be/longing, Marilyn Sanders Mobley analyzes Morrison’s expressed narrative intention of providing “spaces for the reader” to help us understand the narrative strategies in her work.

Mobley’s approach is as interdisciplinary, intersectional, nuanced, and complex as Morrison’s. She combines textual analysis with a study of Morrison’s cultural politics and narrative poetics and describes how Morrison engages with both history and the present political moment.

Informed by research in geocriticism, spatial literary studies, African American literary studies, and Black feminist studies at the intersection of poetics and cultural politics, Mobley identifies four narrative strategies that illuminate how Morrison creates such spaces in her fiction; what these spaces say about her understanding of place, race, and belonging; and how they constitute a way to read and re-read her work.

front cover of The Writer's Map
The Writer's Map
An Atlas of Imaginary Lands
Edited by Huw Lewis-Jones
University of Chicago Press, 2018
It’s one of the first things we discover as children, reading and drawing: Maps have a unique power to transport us to distant lands on wondrous travels. Put a map at the start of a book, and we know an adventure is going to follow. Displaying this truth with beautiful full-color illustrations, The Writer’s Map is an atlas of the journeys that our most creative storytellers have made throughout their lives. This magnificent collection encompasses not only the maps that appear in their books but also the many maps that have inspired them, the sketches that they used while writing, and others that simply sparked their curiosity.
Philip Pullman recounts the experience of drawing a map as he set out on one of his early novels, The Tin Princess. Miraphora Mina recalls the creative challenge of drawing up ”The Marauder’s Map” for the Harry Potter films. David Mitchell leads us to the Mappa Mundi by way of Cloud Atlas and his own sketch maps. Robert Macfarlane reflects on the cartophilia that has informed his evocative nature writing, which was set off by Robert Louis Stevenson and his map of Treasure Island. Joanne Harris tells of her fascination with Norse maps of the universe. Reif Larsen writes about our dependence on GPS and the impulse to map our experience. Daniel Reeve describes drawing maps and charts for The Hobbit film trilogy. This exquisitely crafted and illustrated atlas explores these and so many more of the maps writers create and are inspired by—some real, some imagined—in both words and images.
Amid a cornucopia of 167 full-color images, we find here maps of the world as envisaged in medieval times, as well as maps of adventure, sci-fi and fantasy, nursery rhymes, literary classics, and collectible comics. An enchanting visual and verbal journey, The Writer’s Map will be irresistible for lovers of maps, literature, and memories—and anyone prone to flights of the imagination.

front cover of X Marks the Spot
X Marks the Spot
Women Writers Map the Empire for British Children, 1790–1895
Megan A. Norcia
Ohio University Press, 2010

During the nineteenth century, geography primers shaped the worldviews of Britain’s ruling classes and laid the foundation for an increasingly globalized world. Written by middle-class women who mapped the world that they had neither funds nor freedom to traverse, the primers employed rhetorical tropes such as the Family of Man or discussions of food and customs in order to plot other cultures along an imperial hierarchy.

Cross-disciplinary in nature, X Marks the Spot is an analysis of previously unknown material that examines the interplay between gender, imperial duty, and pedagogy.

Megan A. Norcia offers an alternative map for traversing the landscape of nineteenth-century female history by reintroducing the primers into the dominant historical record. This is the first full-length study of the genre as a distinct tradition of writing produced on the fringes of professional geographic discourse before the high imperial period.


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