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EN977 - Reading Space

In recent decades, space has become a dominant interpretative paradigm across both the humanities and the social sciences. The so-called ‘spatial turn’ is the product of an interdisciplinary cross-fertilization of ideas, in the latter half of the twentieth century, between fields such as geography, urban studies, philosophy and social theory. Rejecting quantitative conceptions of space as merely an empty container, it emphasizes the dynamic character of space, as a product of cultural change and conflict. Spatial theory has played a key role in the discursive construction of the categories of modernity and postmodernity, and has emerged in dialogue with feminist, ecological and postcolonial thought. It has addressed the transformations of space-time experience by global capitalism, focussing on particular space-time configurations associated with urbanization, technology and imperialism.

The module will look at some of the key cultural debates which constitute the ‘spatial turn’, and will consider their significance for literary studies. It will also emphasize the active role of literature in shaping past and present discourses of ‘spatialization’, through readings of a selection of exemplary texts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students will investigate whether a focus on the spatial holds out possibilities for a historical geography of literary production, and will consider the methodological implications of the spatial turn. They will be directed to pursue answers to these questions both at the macro-level, of the wider methodological and theoretical foundations of the discipline (Weeks 1-6); and at the micro-level, where spatial readings can provide new hermeneutic tools in literary analysis (Weeks 7-10).

While the theoretical literature is extensive and can only be very partially sampled in the module, students will be encouraged to use the seminar readings as prompts to pursue particular interests in relation to literary texts of their choice. The module will be available as a Critical Theory (Foundation) module, and as a core module for the Critical Theory and Modern and Contemporary Literature pathways. It will complement a number of existing modules, including Sexual Geographies, Marxism and Modernity and World Literature and World Systems.

Texts to Buy

Ford, Ford Madox. The Soul of London (Everyman)

Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark (1934) (Penguin, 2000 )

Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985) (Picador, 1986)

Ivan Vladisavic, Portrait with Keys: the City of Johannesburg Unlocked (1986) (Portobello Books, 2007)

Selected Secondary Reading

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space, trans. N. Donaldson-Smith (1974). Blackwell, 1991.

De Certeau, Michel. 'Spatial Practices' in The Practice of Everyday Life. U California P, 2002.

Fredric Jameson. Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Verso, 1991.

David Harvey. The Condition of Postmodernity. Blackwell, 1989

Soja, Edward. Postmodern Geographies: the Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. Verso, 1989.

Rose, Gillian. Feminism and Geography. Polity, 1993.

Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. Knopf, 1993.

Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism. Routledge, 2004.

Glotfelty, Cheryl (ed) The Ecocriticism Reader. Univ. Georgia Press, 1996.

Moretti, Franco. ‘Conjectures on World Literature’, New Left Review (2000).

—, ed. The Novel: Vol. I: History, Geography and Culture. Princeton UP, 2006.

Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. Trans. M. B. Debevoise. Harvard UP, 2005.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. Verso, 2006.

Duncan, James S., Nuala C. Johnson and Richard H. Schein (eds). A Companion to Cultural Geography. Blackwell, 2004.

Dear, Michael J. and Steven Flusty (eds). The Spaces of Postmodernity: Readings in Human Geography .Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Foucault, Michel. 'Nietzsche, Genealogy, History', in P. Rabinow (ed) The Foucault Reader (Penguin, 1986), pp.63-77.

--------------------------. 'Of other spaces', Diacritics 16: (1986).

Werf, Barney and Santa Arias. The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary perspectives. Routledge, 2009.

Jacobs, Jane M. Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City. Routledge, 1996.

Damrosch, David. What is World Literature? Princeton UP, 2003.

Thacker, Andrew and Brooker, Peter. Geographies of Modernism. Routledge, 2005.

Hubbard, Phil et al (eds). Key Thinkers on Space and Place. Sage, 2004.

Jarvis, Brian. Postmodern Cartographies: The Geographical Imagination in Contemporary American Culture. Pluto Press, 1998.

Martucci, Elize A. The Environmental Unconscious in the Fiction of Don DeLillo Routledge, 2007.

Carter, Erica, James Donald and Judith Squires (eds). Space and Place: Theories of Identity and Location. Laurence and Wishart, 1993.

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. Hogarth Press, 1985.

Crang, Mike. Cultural Geography. Routledge, 1998.

Dear Michael J. and Steven Flusty (eds). The Spaces of Postmodernity: Readings in Human Geography. Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Bulson, Eric. Novels, Maps, Modernity: the Spatial Imagination 1850-2000. Routledge, 2000.

Duffy, Enda. The Speed Reader (Blackwells, 2009)