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LT901 Rethinking Space and Place Maria Cristina Fumagalli.

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Presentation on theme: "LT901 Rethinking Space and Place Maria Cristina Fumagalli."— Presentation transcript:

1 LT901 Rethinking Space and Place Maria Cristina Fumagalli

2 It is not down in any map; true places never are Herman Melville, Moby Dick

3 What is the connection between literature (or film or theatre) and space and/or place? Why should we concern ourselves with it?

4 Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Joyce's Ulysses Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey Friel's Translations Fanon's Algeria Unveiled Eastenders Dante's The Divine Comedy Thomas More's Utopia Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood Lars Von Trier's Dogville Said's Orientalism Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba Vermeer's The Milkmaid Hopper's Nighthawk

5 Vermeer The Milkmaid

6 Hopper - Nighthawk

7 Carter's Night at the Circus Topoi: the castle, the traveller’s hotel, the pleasant place (the classical locus amœnus), the dungeon, the graveyard, the market etc

8 'Nation' as a term is radically connected with 'native'. We are born into relationships which are typically settled in a place. This form of primary and 'placeable' bonding is of quite fundamental human and natural importance. Yet the jump from that to anything like the modern nation-state is entirely artificial. Raymond Williams, The Year 2000, New York: Pantheon, 1983.

9 AMERICAN TROPICS: TOWARDS A LITERARY GEOGRAPHY Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson, Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Lesley Wylie (University of Essex) http://www.essex.ac.uk/literature/American Tropics/index.htm

10 American Tropics Plantation America

11 What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value. Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), p. 6

12 Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937- 42,

13 Cézanne – Mont Sainte-Victoire

14 [The fact] ‘that places are determinations of an already existing monolith of Space has become an article of faith’ Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

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16 Place is a basic component of our lives: as Casey puts it, 'we are always already in place, never not emplaced in one way or another' 'To live is to live locally and to know is first of all to know the place one is in' In other words, we are not just in places but inevitably of places, we are 'place-based' –which does not mean place-bound in a negative or deterministic sense. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

17 All knowledge and cultural practices are inescapably emplaced. As Casey points out, cultural practices are carried out in places by living bodies. These living bodies inhabit places which are already culturally informed. Even the most primordial level of perceiving depends on specific patterns of recognition and organization. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

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19 University of Essex Choir

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21 Constable Wivenhoe Park

22 Landscape, literally, "shape of the land", derives from a Dutch word that signifies a vista or "cut" (hence the -scape) of the perceived world, construed as "country" and set within a horizon. ‘A landscape is a natural scene mediated by culture.’ W.T. Mitchell Landscape and Power (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994)

23 Studying landscapes, therefore, does not mean simply to study a 'view' (not even looking at it as a text in order to decodify it). It means studying also these strategies of inclusion and exclusion, mythologization and demythologization, that is the emplaced cultural practices that form the ways in which we see (or do not see) the world around us. There is no way we can know the world around us (let alone change it), without being aware of how these cultural practices function. There is no way we can study 'place' without studying those.

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25 But what a wonderful view is offered to the traveller when at the edges of these savannas he discovers the rich plain of the […] area. His eye glides over the fields of sugar cane […]. He loves the effect produced by the waves of greenery, the trees of the deepest green planted here and there as if to vary the scene. The buildings of a large number of manufacturers add interest, and the woods along the banks of the Massacre River, crown and frame the horizon. (Médéric-Louis-Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry Description de la partie française de l'isle Saint-Domingue, 1797 – written in 1789)

26 But what a wonderful view is offered to the traveller when at the edges of these savannas he discovers the rich plain of the […] area. His eye glides over the fields of sugar cane […]. He loves the effect produced by the waves of greenery, the trees of the deepest green planted here and there as if to vary the scene. The buildings of a large number of manufacturers add interest, and the woods along the banks of the Massacre River, crown and frame the horizon.

27 ‘A working country is hardly ever a landscape' Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 120

28 Song A rowan like a lipsticked girl. Between the by-road and the main road Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance Stand off among the rushes. There are the mud-flowers of dialect And the immortelles of perfect pitch And that moment when the bird sings very close To the music of what happens. Seamus Heaney

29 The living body is central to Casey's discussion of place as a body is always, necessarily living in a place and living a place. The living body becomes a field of localization for the manifold sensuous presentations of a particular place and bodies and places integrate, interact and interanimate one another thanks to their intrinsic porosity. Just as there are no places without the bodies that sustain and vivify them, so there are no lived bodies without the places they inhabit and traverse. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

30 ‘Places are created by human beings through some mark or sign of human presence. A wilderness in itself is placeless, for it has no human centre or point of convergence around which nature can gather and become bounded.' Robert Pogue-Harrison, ‘Hic Jacet’, in W.T. Mitchell Landscape and Power (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994)

31 Anecdote of the Jar I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill. The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air. It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee. Wallace Stevens

32 Anecdote of the Jar I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill. The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air. It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee. Wallace Stevens

33 1- The non-human environment is present not merely as a framing device but as a presence that begins to suggest that human history is implicated in natural history 2- The human interest is not understood to be the only legitimate interest 3- Human accountability to the environment is part of the preferred text's ethical orientation 4- Some sense of the environment as a process rather than as a constant or given is at least implicit in the text Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, nature writing, and the formation of American Culture (1995)

34 Anecdote of the Jar I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill. The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air. It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee. Wallace Stevens

35 Motion. Motion is key to our understanding of place and its interaction with bodies. Casey suggests that, far from being static and monolithic, places are dynamic, encourage and are constituted by motion. Even when the body stays in place, it changes the position of some of its parts. But bodies move within places or between places and in so doing help constitute places whilst places constitute these bodies. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

36 Gathering - According to Casey, place gathers different bodies, experiences, histories, languages and holds them together in a particular configuration and within certain boundaries. Places are qualified by their own contents and by the ways in which these contents are articulated. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’ Field –etymology ‘feld’ ‘plain, open land’ (=/= woodland) ‘a parcel of land marked off and used for pasture or tillage’

37 Culture and the Wild – Places as well as bodies are pervaded and constituted by culture. However, Casey argues, at the core of place one finds an unruly, wild aspect. 'Even the most culturally saturated place retains a factor of wildness, that is of the radical amorphous and unaccounted for.' Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

38 The Thought-Fox I imagine this midnight moment's forest: Something else is alive Beside the clock's loneliness And this blank page where my fingers move. Through the window I see no star: Something more near Though deeper within darkness Is entering the loneliness: Cold, delicately as the dark snow A fox's nose touches twig, leaf; Two eyes serve a movement, that now And again now, and now, and now

39 Sets neat prints into the snow Between trees, and warily a lame Shadow lags by stump and in hollow Of a body that is bold to come Across clearings, an eye, A widening deepening greenness, Brilliantly, concentratedly, Coming about its own business Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox It enters the dark hole of the head. The window is starless still; the clock ticks, The page is printed. Ted Hughes

40 Space-time and place. Far from being something simply physical, Casey reminds us, a place is more an event than a thing –it includes time because place is where time takes place. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’

41 There's a certain slant of light, On winter afternoons, That oppresses, like the weight Of cathedral tunes. Heavenly hurt it gives us; We can find no scar, But internal difference Where the meanings are. None may teach it anything, 'Tis the seal, despair,- An imperial affliction Sent us of the air. When it comes, the landscape listens, Shadows hold their breath; When it goes, 't is like the distance On the look of death. Emily Dickinson

42 Memories, Casey reminds us, belong to a place in the same way in which they belong to a body. Casey, ‘How to get from Space to Place.’ They straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places... but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering.... All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Toni Morrison, Beloved

43 Going Home He came home. Said nothing. It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong. He lay down fully dressed. Pulled the blanket over his head. Tucked up his knees. He's nearly forty, but not at the moment. He exists just as he did inside his mother's womb, clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness. Tomorrow he'll give a lecture on homeostasis in metagalactic cosmonautics. For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep. Wislawa Szymborska

44 It happened one day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a man's naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen on the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I looked round me, but I could hear nothing, nor see anything; I went up to a rising ground to look farther; I went up the shore and down the shore, but it was all one; I could see no other impression but that one. I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the print of a foot - toes, heel, and every part of a foot. How it came thither I knew not, nor could I in the least imagine Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

45 When I came to my castle (for so I think I called it ever after this), I fled into it like one pursued. Whether I went over by the ladder, as first contrived, or went in at the hole in the rock, which I had called a door, I cannot remember; no, nor could I remember the next morning, for never frightened hare fled to cover, or fox to earth, with more terror of mind than I to this retreat. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

46 The self-conscious commitment to place advocated by Casey has social and political repercussions because it insists that we produce places at the same time as being produced by them. What follows, for me, is a renewed sense of responsibility. Interestingly, the responsibility to ground oneself in and foreground 'place' can only be fulfilled through another, perhaps opposed responsibility, that is the responsibility to change the terms in which place and specific places are given to us.

47 It is not down in any map; true places never are Herman Melville, Moby Dick

48 Brueghel – The Fall of Icarus


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