Literary cartographies: the co-production of page and place.
Sponsored by Social and Cultural Geography Research Group RGS-IBG AC2014
This session invites papers that investigate the ways in which geographies of fiction co-produce the real and imagined places around us. As Piatti et al observe, geography is essential to fiction, it is “impossible to even think of literature without any spatial context” (2008:4); however, the co-productive relationship between real places and literary stories is complex. In some cases, fiction intersects directly with real world cartographies. Narratives can be based in specific countries, regions, and towns, so much so that we can visit them in person and follow our characters’ footsteps with our own. This direct coincidence of fictional and geographical space can be seen in examples such as Hardy’s Wessex, Kerouac’s California, or Auster’s New York. In other fictions, real geographies are moulded, with distances reduced, streets folded and landmarks crumpled together. In this way, (brave) new worlds are invented in the author’s and readers’ imagination. In the same way as some authors invent ‘counterfactual histories’ (see Piatti and Hurni, 2009), these re-workings may be conceived of as ‘counterfactual geographies’. However, as this session explores, any claim to a clear and reliable reality is often difficult to maintain in the realm of literature and geography. Thus, in the words of Piatti and Hurni, stories can be rooted directly in the “physically comprehensible world”, or exist in their own “rich geographical layer” above it. These complex and fascinating relations combine to produce the “geography of fiction” (Piatti & Hurni, 2011:218).
This session invites papers which explore the ways through which page and place are co-produced in reading and writing practice. Secondly, it offers a supplementary walking tour, based around a relevant piece of literature, which offer a ‘novel’ means through which to experience the co-production of page and place.
Dr Jon Anderson, School of Planning & Geography, Cardiff University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Angharad Saunders, University of South Wales. Email: email@example.com