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Reading and Mapping Fiction: Spatialising the Literary Text

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsMonograph

Publication date1/07/2020
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages350
ISBN (print)9781108487450
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Reading and Mapping articulates a new approach to the interpretation of literary space and place for the discipline of Literary Studies, centred upon the emergence of an explicit fictional map alongside the text in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. At the heart of the project is an integrated account of the relationships between maps and texts, as part of the totality of meaning for the literary work. The study seeks to illuminate our understanding of literary forms and genres in terms of their spatial dimensions by interpreting across and between map and text when both are present, arguing for a dynamic relationship between visual and verbal representations. Four core chapters at the heart of the study do this for each genre represented therein. This then leads into a broader discussion of spatial aspects of literature that the method both illuminates and enables.

The volume builds on the findings of the "spatial turn" in the Humanities in the late 90s and early 2000s and on theoretical interconnections between Literature, Geography and Cartography. It develops an entirely new methodology by working in an interdisciplinary way, applying a sceptical reading of maps and mapmaking developed in Cartography (the "Critical Cartography" of Harley, Woods, Monmonier and others) back onto Literary Studies but also combining this with a fully historicised account of fictional maps and with detailed analysis of the relationship between visual and verbal mapping. Such a method questions the apparent authority of real world maps, and, when applied to literature, enables a reading of the map as a potentially duplicitous representation that may appear to work with a text, but is equally capable of working against it. The study aims to open up understanding of spatial meaning and interpretation in new ways that are relevant both to more traditional academic scholarship and to newly emerging digital practices.