Poetry & Geography: Space and Place in Post-War Poetry

Poetry & Geography: Space and Place in Post-War Poetry

Poetry & Geography: Space and Place in Post-War Poetry

Poetry & Geography: Space and Place in Post-War Poetry

Excerpt

The spatial turn in literary studies has been gaining momentum for more than two decades now. Thanks in part to the corresponding cultural turn in human geography, it is no longer necessary to insist quite so strenuously that the ‘geographical articulations’ of literature are significant in themselves; that the geographical where of place and location in literary texts affects the what, why and how of their cultural meanings. What is emerging, through deepening exchanges between literary studies and cultural geography, is a clearer and suppler understanding of how the affective and political aspects of space condition not only the content but also the languages and forms of literary texts. Equally and oppositely, literary texts are acknowledged to have an important role in constructing and reconstructing the meanings of place. Of course, such developments need to be understood as part of a larger set of convergences between research in geography and the humanities, but the opportunities opened up for literary criticism seem particularly fruitful. What has been called literary geography is articulated in a variety of different ways, ranging from analyses of literary representations of particular spaces and places to studies detailing the geographies of production, circulation and reception in which literary texts manifest themselves. It can involve making more or less sophisticated maps with quantitative data derived from details of plot and setting; or it can entail evaluating the use of cartographic tropes and metaphors in poems, novels and plays. Literary geography thus interests itself variously in the spaces of the text and with texts in space.

The essays in this volume draw impetus from and seek to contribute to this growing body of interdisciplinary research by focusing attention on the diversity and profundity of poetic responses to space, place and landscape in Britain and Ireland since the Second World War. Collectively, their varied articulations of poetry and geography – literally ‘earth writing’ – also redress a certain imbalance of critical attention.

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