The Ideologies of Lived Space in Literary Texts, Ancient and Modern
Jo Heirman, University of Amsterdam
Jacqueline Klooster, University of Amsterdam
Copyright Year: 2013
ISBN 13: 9789038221021
Publisher: Academia Press
Conditions of Use
This edited collection covers a range of literary texts from the “Ancient,” or classical, period and the “Modern” period, as in the nineteenth century and later, but is heavily grounded in the classical period. The book consists of approximately... read more
This edited collection covers a range of literary texts from the “Ancient,” or classical, period and the “Modern” period, as in the nineteenth century and later, but is heavily grounded in the classical period. The book consists of approximately nine chapters on this early period with six addressing the later modern period. The collection includes texts that are set in various parts of the world from Europe to Africa to the Caribbean. The collection’s focus on spatial analysis connects works from these periods, which is the scope of the collection; its scope is not to include the literature in between these time periods. Disproportionately relying on Bakhtin and Foucault with some inclusion of Bachelard, Lefebvre, and Soja, the collection excludes recent geocritical theorists like Bertrand Westphal while engaging in other forms of criticism like ecocriticism. The collection focuses on the idea of “lived space” expressed through various kinds of spaces—urban, pastoral, underground, memorial, and imagined—that take on significance for identity constructed within temporal constraints. While the introduction to the collection posits this idea of “lived space,” it does not offer overall cohesion to the volume so that the unifying theme of this disparate collection appears to be spatial analysis only but could have offered a more powerful analysis of identity, particularly nationalism, especially through the incorporation of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. This collection is for scholars and graduate students interested in spatial literary analysis in general and is especially for those interested in classical literature. At the same time, the collection consists of chapters on singular texts like Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place that may be of interest to scholars of postcolonial literature. The collection does define terms within the chapters by using parenthetical expressions instead of using a glossary. The index could have been more comprehensive, for it omits some of the modern authors the collection includes like Kincaid while it privileges classical authors by listing them. Likewise, the index lists some spatial theorists such as Bakhtin, Foucault, Lefebvre, and Soja but omits Bachelard. The index includes places and concepts, but errors in formatting may cause readers to overlook terms like "imperialism" and "intertextuality." Overall, this edited collection offers an impressive application of spatial analysis to literary texts from the ancient and modern periods that collapses the time between them demonstrating that how we use space and express ourselves through space are both timely and timeless.
The edited collection unites works from both the classical and modern periods through spatial analysis by scholars in these areas. The collection contains more content from the earlier period and emphasizes the influence of Foucault and Bakhtin.
This collection is the product of the “spatial turn” in literary analysis. It will not require updates, unless the editors desire to provide another edition—revised, expanded, or with a new introduction. Spatial analysis of literary texts is an emerging area that will continue to grow in conjunction with geocritical, ecocritical, and digital approaches to literary texts. Furthermore, chapters like “The Epitaphios, Civic Ideology and the Cityscape of Classical Athens: Space and Cultural Athens” in this collection may be used to discuss contemporary issues: Black Lives Matter, monuments, and even COVID-19.
The theoretical framework and the arguments are clear. The chapters define lesser-known terms and jargon within the text in parenthetical expressions, though commas can help with clarity with the use of “or” (89) and words could be defined upon first mention (89, 90) for further clarity. Alternative or qualifying words for “normal” (18, 24) and “man-made” (16, 21, 22, 23), “man” (36, 131), and “man’s” (37) would have been helpful, especially to avoid sexist language. Italics appear to be used to emphasize terms throughout the collection but seem overused as in the examples “metaphors,” “outer,” “effect,” and “performance” (88, italics in original), which cause some confusion during the reading because the reader wonders why the words are italicized. The book overuses parenthetical expressions and uses them in unconventional ways as in substituting them for brackets inside of quotations (48, 98).
The theoretical framework that relies heavily on Foucault and Bakhtin is consistently applied throughout the collection so much so that some repetition arises. The collection is not for readers encountering spatial analysis for the first time, though it perhaps makes this attempt. The collection has some inconsistencies in style choices such as the use of BCE in some chapters while not using it in other chapters (71). Range enumeration of lines and pagination is not indicated consistently by using the same form (76, 88). Inconsistencies in editing, proofreading, and copyediting are apparent and exist throughout the collection.
The book is an edited collection segmented into chapters written by different authors, with endnotes and bibliography at the end of each chapter, which helps with navigating the book as well as assigning relevant chapters for a course, whether related to space in the classical period or genre as in part one with the chapter “Space and Myth: The Ideology of Utopian and Heterotopian Representations in the Contemporary Novel” by Sofie Verraest and Bart Keunen or as in part five with the chapter “Small Places: Global Nativism in Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place (1988)” by Murat Aydemir. The chapters reintroduce the theoretical framework, which is repetitive for a reader of the entire collection but helpful for assigning individual chapters. Enumeration of chapters in the table of contents would have been convenient for identification and citation. The parts are thematic, allowing them to be assigned accordingly.
The collection is organized based on constructions of space with the unifying thread of “lived space” on which the introduction “The Ideologies of ‘Lived Space’, Ancient and Modern” focuses. The book is segmented into five sections, or “parts”: “Lived Space and Society,” “Heterotopical Spaces and Chronotopes,” “Ecocriticism and Space,” “Space and Power,” and “Spaces and the Deconstruction of Power,” with a corresponding pattern of two chapters, four chapters, two chapters, four chapters, and two chapters. Rather than having this many parts, and parts with only two chapters, the collection could have been reorganized to distribute the chapters more evenly into fewer parts. Additionally, the content about the symposium and the etiology of the collection in the introduction may have been better placed in a preface or acknowledgments to allow for elaboration on the cohesion of the collection.
The collection includes clear, legible images, graphics, and charts, though in black and white. Color would have been helpful to differentiate pictorial representation of data (233). Since the book was made available online, providing color images would have been inexpensive, but the initial publication of the book may have been intended to be print. The text is easy to navigate through scrolling, unless readers are trying to identify individual chapters, which means that the reader must return to the table of contents each time; hyperlinks would have made the text more navigable.
The book contains grammatical errors as well as the unusual use of “the,” a definite article, before a place as in “the Troy” (76), typographical errors (112), and spelling errors (224). The collection includes some unusual style choices, noted above, in addition to dividing “everyday” as “eve- ryday” (60) and “Although” as “Alt- hough” (100). These kinds of issues can result from poor copyediting and layout, both of which are usually the responsibility of the publisher.
The collection demonstrates cultural sensitivity, while spatially analyzing classical and contemporary texts, with a focus on Western civilization in addition to engaging ecocriticism and postcolonial spaces of Antigua, Brazil, and Jamaica. The editors explain that perspectives of lived space depend on the standpoint, or situation, of the voice in the text, especially pertinent to sections four and five on “lived space and power” (8, emphasized in original). The volume critiques binary oppositions of lived space. As noted above, the collection needs to be sensitive to gender inclusivity, for it uses the dated terms "man" and "man-made." Consistency is style would have avoided the "before Christ" reference for the preferred form BCE (71).
While the “spatial turn” may be a recent approach in literary analysis in general, it is an approach that has existed in literature that has been defined by place, such as Appalachian and Southern literature as demonstrated in The Poetics of Appalachian Space, edited by Parks Lanier, Jr. (1991) and black women’s spaces as shown in Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle by Katherine McKittrick (2006). Spatial analysis has also been influential in early modern literary analysis, for example Writing, Geometry and Space in Seventeenth-Century England and America: Circles in the Sand by Jess Edwards (2005). Because Ideologies of Lived Space connects classical texts with modern ones through spatial analysis, it broadens the approach of spatial analysis. This collection or selections from this collection may be paired with spatial literary analyses of literary texts from other geographic areas and times; thus, this collection fills an important niche--connecting the ancient and modern--in spatial literary analysis.
The book does a great job in covering narrative texts across time, from antiquity to the modern period. It is difficult to completely judge the comprehensiveness of a project of this nature, as so much lies outside the scope of any single book.... read more
The book does a great job in covering narrative texts across time, from antiquity to the modern period. It is difficult to completely judge the comprehensiveness of a project of this nature, as so much lies outside the scope of any single book. However, the editors have done a remarkable job in selecting essays that represent texts of varying origin, in terms of both time and place.
Personally, I would have liked to see a little more engagement with texts that could be classified as "post-colonial", especially given that the editor's acknowledge the importance of post-colonial literature to the study of space. However, the book is a comprehensive look at representations of and reactions to lived space in literary texts.
The book is error-free and cannot be described as biased. As an edited volume of essays, the book brings together a variety of perspectives and approaches to the subject, while remaining coherent.
This book has the potential to be a frequently referenced and oft-cited work on the subject of lived space in literary texts. While new work on this subject is always being published, the essays featured in this book do provide a base for future scholars to understand the orientations of the field and to discover new areas of theoretical exploration. The nature of the literary texts analysed in the essays featured in this book might mean that the book as a whole appears more relevant to those interested in the classics and antiquity, though just a little fewer than half the essays are concerned with modern texts.
As is mentioned in the introduction, this book is a response to the "spatial turn" in the humanities. This tendency in humanities scholarship has proved itself to be sustainable, and there is reason to believe that this book could feature as an open resource on this subject. Scholarly tendencies are subject to change in direction, however, but the relevance of this book is unquestioned in the foreseeable future.
All the essays featured in this book feature lucid, accessible prose. The book's introduction does a great job in introducing the reader to humanistic theories of space and its relevance to literary studies in simple language. Even as somewhat of an expert in this field, I was impressed by the succinctness and clarity of the explanations in the introduction.
All essays in the book share basic assumptions about the relevance of studying the representation and use of space in literary texts. Further, all essays take Foucauldian analyses of space as a touchstone, serving as a base to their individual theoretical frameworks. Despite the wide variety of literary texts examined in the book, the consistency of theoretical approach makes this book easy to read.
The book is well laid out. It is organised into five distinct sections, and the rationale for this organisation is made clear in the introduction. As a product of an academic conference, the essays included in the book share obvious connections to each other. The internal consistency of this book makes it easy to read and refer.
Further, as the book consists of individual essays, any of them can be cited as an individual example of scholarship on the subject of space in literature.
The essays are organized thematically. The division into sections according to theme is clear.
The book is easy to scroll and well laid out.
There are no grammatical errors.
While the book could have featured more essays on literary texts from the Third World/Global South, it is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The essays that do analyse non-Western texts are to be recommended.
This book focuses on explicating the ideological role of space in ancient and modern literary texts. It focuses on "lived space", or space that is experienced and valued by a literary character, thus enabling us to understand the possible implications of experience and power in and for these spaces. Therefore, the concept of "ideological role of space" is divided into two broad categories - 1) lived space and society and 2) lived space and power.
The book is divided into five sections. The first three sections broadly deal with analyses of the emotional, psychological, and cultural reactions to space as seen in a variety of literary texts. The last two sections are concerned with how space is used in narratives of power and conquest, and how, in turn, political power influences the representation of space. These two themes are not watertight distinctions, however, and both kinds of arguments can be found in every essay in the book.
It is most impressive how comprehensively this book delves into a such a vast range and variety of texts, moving seamlessly from Sophocles, Pliny the Elder, and Athenian funeral orations to 19th century novels. It is a vast topic, truly, but the... read more
It is most impressive how comprehensively this book delves into a such a vast range and variety of texts, moving seamlessly from Sophocles, Pliny the Elder, and Athenian funeral orations to 19th century
novels. It is a vast topic, truly, but the text is accomplished in this respect; when it chooses to analyze the construction of nationalist narrative, for instance, the book manages to span a nearly two-thousand-year expanse, moving from Virgil's Aeneid and an epic poet's introduction of eternity to the identity of ancient Rome, to Soutsos' 19th Century novel O Leandros and its nationalistic vision of modern Greece.
I am confident regarding the absence of bias and about the accuracy of the research and perspectives being shared in The Ideologies of Lived Space.
The range of this text--ancient and modern-- in my opinion renders the question of relevance and longevity inapplicable. I would predict is that this study remains of interest and resilent in its ideas, and continues to be considered an edifying resource on literary space.
As a textbook, this book is not an adoption for a beginning literature class. However, this text is lucid and accessible to more nuanced students, and would provide notable and useful insight for them into the concept of space. It would make a fine textbook for a specialized literature course embracing space as its central subject, and certainly could be a relevant and worthwhile focus for students in such a literature class at the upper division undergraduate or graduate level.
I did find the text internally consistent in terminology and framework, with much conceptual and theoretical overlap: Foucault's heterotopias and Bahktin's chronotypes were central concepts in many of these essays, and of course, the spatial precedent of epic poetry seemed somewhat ever-present; a healthy balance was struck between less familiar poets like Nonnus, and the more famous bards-- Horace, Virgil, and Homer.
Idealogies of Lived Space manages the feat of gathering a series of intriguing essays on a single concept. These are arranged in five separate themes: Lived space and Society; Heterotopic spaces and Chronotopes; Ecocriticism and Space; Space and Power; and lastly, Spaces and the Deconstruction of Power. The book is indeed divided in a fashion that would permit instructors to assign readings at different points in a course, and these section titles could even be configured as an organization for a course.
An index allows students to gravitate toward topics of particular interest.
There was a splendid blend of longer and shorter essays, and each were encased in a sensibly titled, relevant section of text. The book made good sense structurally and organizationally.
The text was not distracting or confusing in any way with its displayed features.
I did find two typos( on page 26 and page 129) but there was no evidence of significant grammatical errors. It is a very sound text grammatically.
This text was multicultural and inclusive in its approach, and invited a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to its pages. Both Homer and Jamacia Kincaid were present in its pages. A host of disciplines also were showcased and participated ably in the study, with a multitude of poets, philosophers, historians, and storytellers represented. The text seemed quintessentially openminded and did not offend.
In the tradition of Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, this Idealogies of Lived Space opens and explores space as a concept in literature. I found the book captivating and resoundingly enjoyable on many levels and will return to it in the future. I would indeed recommend its use it for a literature course and as a tool for open students' minds to the captivating concept of literary space.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Lived Space And Society
- Cave And Cosmos
- Space And Myth
Part 2 Heterotopical Spaces And Chronotopes
- Grave Stories
- The Theatre As Heterotopia
- Symbolic ‘Lived Spaces' In Ancient Greek Lyric And The Heterotopia Of The Symposium
- The Symposium
- Producing Utopian Space
Part 3 Ecocriticism And Space
- Imagined Space/Lived Space, Alienation/Destruction,
- Nature's Helping Hand
Part 4 Space And Power
- ‘No Bounds In Space Or Time'
- Argo Was Here
- The Epitaphios, Civic Ideology And The Cityscape Of Classical Athens
- Inventing A National Narrative
Part 5 Spaces And The Deconstruction Of Power
- Small Places
- Writing Space, Living Space
About The AuthorsIndex
About the Book
In a brief essay called Des espaces autres (1984) Michel Foucault announced that after the nineteenth century, which was dominated by a historical outlook, the current century might rather be the century of space. His prophecy has been fulfilled: the end of the twentieth century witnessed a ‘spatial turn' in humanities which was perhaps partly due to the globalisation of our modern world. Inspired by the spatial turn in the humanities, this volume presents a number of essays on the ideological role of space in literary texts. The individual articles analyse ancient and modern literary texts from the angle of the most recent theoretical conceptualisations of space. The focus throughout is on how the experience of space is determined by dominant political, philosophical or religious ideologies and how, in turn, the description of spaces in literature is employed to express, broadcast or deconstruct this experience. By bringing together ancient and modern, mostly postcolonial texts, this volume hopes to stimulate discussion among disciplines and across continents. Among the authors discussed are: Homer, Nonnus, Alcaeus of Lesbos, Apollonius of Rhodes, Vergil, Herodotus, Panagiotis Soutsos, Assia Djebar, Tahar Djaout, Olive Senior, Jamaica Kincaid, Stefan Heym, Benoit Dutuertre, Henrik Stangerup and David Malouf.
About the Contributors
Jo Heirman, University of Amsterdam
Jacqueline Klooster, University of Amsterdam