This collection of essays offers a series of reflections on the specific literary and cultural forms that can be seen as the product of modernity’s spatial transformations, which have taken on new urgency in today’s world of ever increasing mobility and global networks. The book offers a broad perspective on the narrative and poetic dimensions of the modern discourses and imaginaries that have shaped our current geographical sensibilities. In the early twenty-first century, we are still grappling with the spatial effects of ‘early’ and ‘high’ modern developments, and the contemporary crises revolving around political boundaries and geopolitical orders in many parts of the world have intensified spatial anxieties. They call for a sustained analysis of individual perceptions, cultural constructions and political implications of spatial processes, movements and relations.
The contributors of this book focus both on the spatial orders of modernity and on the various dynamic processes that have shaped our engagement with modern space. They creatively engage in a dialogue between literature, cinema, art history, geography, architecture, cultural semiotics and political science, and they transform twentieth- and twenty-first-century theory and philosophy to examine the textual forms of different spatial modernities. The chapters do not only engage with the cartographies, crossings and displacements represented within different texts and media, but are also attentive to the ways in which the latter produce space and perform mobility. Tracing an arc from Thomas More’s Utopia to the digital spatiality of contemporary autobiographical film, they treat texts as active cultural forces that crystallize, reinforce, interrogate or complicate the spatial imaginaries of modernity through their own narrative and poetic form.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Framing the Debate: Spatial Modernities, Travelling Narratives
1 In the Suburbs of Amaurotum: Fantasy, Utopia and Literary Cartography
ROBERT T. TALLY JR.
2 Mapping Utopia
3 Of the Novelty of Bird’s-Eye Views in Eighteenth-Century Travelling Narratives
4 Satellite Vision and Geographical Imagination
5 Crossing the Sand: The Arrival on the Desert Island
6 Two Centuries of Spatial ‘Island’ Assumptions: The Swiss Family Robinson and the Robinson Crusoe Legacy
7 Island Stills and Island Movements: Un/freezing the Island in 1920s and 1930s Hollywood Cinema
8 Words and Images of Flight: Representations of the Seashore in the Texts about the Overseas Flight of Estonians during the Autumn of 1944
9 The Literary Channel: Identity and Liminal Space in Island Fictions
Modernity on the Move
10 Montaigne: Travel and Travail
11 The Expanding Space of the Train Carriage: A phenomenological reading of Michel Butor’s La modification
Late Modernity and the Spatialized Self
12 The Reader, the Writer, the Text: Traversing Spaces in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes
13 Narrative, Space and Autobiographical Film in the Digital Age: An Analysis of The Beaches of Agnès (2008)
Notes on Contributors
Johannes Riquet is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Tampere. His research focuses on spatiality, the multiple relations between literature and geography, travel writing, phenomenology, and film studies. He has published on island narratives, railway literature and cinema, the poetics of snow and ice, and Shakespeare.
Elizabeth Kollmann studied in Port Elizabeth and Zurich and completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of Zurich in 2014. Her research interests include life writing, exile, postcolonialism and South African literature. She is a Lecturer in English at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences.