english 548 ~ spring 2009

Course schedule

Course description

[W]e do not live in a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. We do not live inside a void that could be colored by diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another.

-- Michel Foucault

In literary and cultural studies, the last two decades have been increasingly concerned with the ways in which space and place inform aesthetics, culture, and politics.  This course will attempt an overview of some of the thinkers, themes, and issues that animate this broadly interdisciplinary nexus of inquiry. 

Why the turn to place and space?  Many of the social and political issues that have become increasingly central within literary studies have a fundamentally spatial dimension, including: nationalism, imperialism and colonialism; cultural globalization; gender and sexuality; urbanization; digital cultures, and environmentalism and ecopoetics.  Space, moreover, has arguably proven to be a more fruitful foundation than time or history for the interweaving of connections between different disciplines and modes of inquiry.

While the nature of the course will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon philosophy, geography, sociology, anthropology, and architecture, we will take care to understand how these many different disciplines and discourses can inform literary studies.  Literature speaks centrally to the many issues involved in spatial studies, but literary language also draws attention to its fraught relationship with space and place: does a poem create a place in fullness and richness or does it merely signify the gap between language and place?  Does a novel accomplish a kind of comprehensive "worlding" or does it inevitably fall short of its promise of presence?  Literature thus functions as a rich and complex site for the analysis of space and place.

Literature, of course, is only one among many "spatial" forms of art.  We will also consider other media as vehicles for the aesthetic expression of place and space, including film, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, and music.


Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space

Timothy Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction

Other readings to be distributed by me


Seminar paper

Roughly 16-20 pages in length, due May 4.  Your seminar paper might be thought of as a first draft of an essay to be submitted to a journal or a preliminary section of a thesis or dissertation.  You are free to choose a topic and approach, as long as it clearly engages with a significant theme or themes of the course.  You should submit a brief (1-2 pages) prospectus with a working bibliography no later than April 13.


Project Presentation

During the final class meeting, on April 27, you will make a 10-15 minute presentation on the topic of your seminar paper.  This will serve two purposes: to disseminate your own work to the class and to prompt a discussion that will (ideally) help you in completing the project.



Roughly 60% your final grade will be determined by your seminar paper.  The remaining 40% will be determined by the following: your discussion openers, short papers, project presentation, weekly preparation, and active and meaningful participation in class discussion.


Statement on academic integrity

All policies will be followed according to the Standards of Conduct for Students.  These can be viewed at the following website: http://www.conduct.wsu.edu/default.asp?PageID=343.


Disability accommodation

Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability.  Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course.  Late notification may mean that requested accommodations might not be available.  All accommodations must be approved through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) located in the Administration Annex Room 205, 335-1566.




space & place

in theory, literature, & culture

Jon Hegglund

M 3:10-5:55

Avery 110


Office: Avery 202H

Office hours: TW 1-3




Because this course approaches a nexus of related theoretical issues in an interdisciplinary, synthetic way, there is no neatly defined corpus of writings that circumscribes the topic at hand.  The material will draw upon discourses and disciplines that, more often than not, have no explicit connection to literary studies: geography, philosophy, architecture, anthropology, and sociology, to name a few.  As such (to borrow a distinction made by Jacques Derrida), we will be bricoleurs rather than engineers, using the tools at hand to the best of our abilities rather than building a theoretical edifice from the ground up.  As you read, then, try not to worry too much about mastery, and instead focus on any new thoughts or connections suggested by the readings.  Also, I have, as much as possible, attempted to frontload the reading such that the load is heavier at the beginning of the semester, and (comparatively) lighter as we move into the later weeks.


Discussion openers & short papers

Each of you will sign up for two different weeks during which you will make some brief remarks and observations that open up at least one of the week's readings for discussion (you do not need to account for all of the assigned texts).  Rather than begin within the abstractions of theory, I want the discussions to have some textual touchstone.  What I have in mind is this: no later than the Thursday before your presentation, you will distribute some sort of primary text that we will discuss in dialogue with the week's readings.  This text should, above all, be brief: something along the lines a poem or series of short poems, a (very) short story, or a short excerpt from a longer narrative.  If the text is excerpted from a longer work, you should give enough context to orient the rest of us.  The text need not be explicitly literary, either; painting, sculpture, music, photography, film, or other media would work as well.  The success of this assignment depends upon your previewing the week's reading enough to enable you to choose a text that will "pair" well with the week's theoretical readings.  Also, you should distribute your text to the class by converting your text into a .pdf file that can be e-mailed to the class (preferred, and the office staff can do this from the copier).  You should have this out to the rest of the class no later than Thursday afternoon.

Within a week after your presentation, you will turn in a brief (3-5 page) paper that analyzes your text in relation to some of the themes or questions that have come out of the week's reading and discussion.  You can certainly think of these short papers as a venue for working out issues that you wish to explore in your seminar paper.


Course schedule (subject to minor changes)

12 Jan


Course introduction

Thinking about trees

Modernity and the hidden moralities of space and place

19 Jan


26 Jan


Place and space: definitions and problems

Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction, chapters 1-2

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, chapter 1 and chapter 2 (sections I-VII)

Yi-Fu Tuan, "Introduction" and "Experiential Perspective," from Space and Place

Michel Foucault, "Of Other Spaces"

David Harvey, "From Space to Place and Back Again: Reflections on the Condition of Postmodernity"

Discussion Opener: Neta, Julie

2 Feb


Here, there, everywhere: representing the local & the global

Fredric Jameson, "The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"

Arjun Appadurai, "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy"

Cresswell, Place: An Introduction, chapter 3 (including Doreen Massey's "A Global Sense of Place")

J. Hillis Miller, "Introduction," from Topographies

Timothy Morton, "The Art of Environmental Language," from Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics


Discussion Opener: Beatrice

9 Feb


Gendering place & space

Linda McDowell, "Spatializing Feminism"

Doreen Massey, "A Place Called Home?" from Space, Place, and Gender

Gillian Rose, "No Place for Women?" from Feminism and Geography

Rosemary Marangoly George, "Home-Countries: Narratives Across Disciplines," from The Politics of Home


Discussion Opener: Lisa

16 Feb


23 Feb

Enlightenment space & place

Lefebvre, The Production of Space, chapter 4

Edward Casey, "Modern Space as Site and Point," from The Fate of Place

Ren Descartes, "Sixth Meditation," from Meditations on First Philosophy

Susan Bordo, "The Cartesian Masculinization of Thought"

Michel Foucault, The Eye of Power, from Power/Knowledge


Discussion Opener: Seth

2 Mar


Spaces of power: landscape, map, narrative

Edward Said, "Narrative and Social Space" and "Themes of Resistance Culture," from Culture and Imperialism

J.B. Harley, "Maps, Knowledge, and Power," from The New Nature of Maps

W.J.T. Mitchell, "Imperial Landscape," from Landscape and Power

Mary Louise Pratt, "Introduction" and "From the Victoria N'yanza to the Sheraton San Salvador," from Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation

Thongchai Winichakul, "The Coming of a New Geography," from Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation


Discussion Opener: Beatrice, Jim

9 Mar


Modernist space

Lefebvre, The Production of Space, chapter 5

Halford Mackinder, "The Geographical Pivot of History" *optional*

Stephen Kern, The Nature of Space, from The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918

David Harvey, Time-Space Compression and the Rise of Modernism as a Cultural Force," from The Condition of Postmodernity


Discussion Opener: Lisa

16 Mar


23 Mar


The metropolis, gender, and modernity

Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life"

Walter Benjamin, On Some Motifs in Baudelaire, from Illuminations

Janet Wolff, "The Invisible Flneuse"

Deborah Parsons, "Mythologies of Modernity," from Streetwalking the Metropolis

Elizabeth Grosz, "Bodies-Cities," from Sexuality and Space


Discussion Opener: Neta

30 Mar



Martin Heidegger, "Building Dwelling Thinking," from Poetry, Language, Thought

Gaston Bachelard, "The House. From Cellar to Garret. The Significance of the Hut," from The Poetics of Space

Karsten Harries, "Building and Dwelling," and "Space and Place," from The Ethical Function of Architecture


Discussion Opener: Jim, Julie

6 Apr



Guy Debord, from Situationist International Anthology

Michel de Certeau, "Spatial Stories" and "Walking in the City," from The Practice of Everyday Life

Lefebvre, The Production of Space, chapter 6 (sections XVIII-XXVII)


Discussion Opener: Ben, Seth

13 Apr


Digital spaces (guest star: Jason Farman)

Jason Farman, "Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography"

Jane McGonigal, "SuperGaming: Ubiquitous Play and Performance for Massively Scaled Community"

Sherry Turkle, "Virtuality and Its Discontents"




Discussion Opener: Ben

20 Apr


"Wilderness" as a Paradoxical Place and Space (guest star: Chris Arigo)

Greg Garrard, "Wilderness," from Ecocriticism
Wilderness Act of 1964
William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature"
Gary Snyder, "The Etiquette of Freedom"

27 Apr


4 May