Geography and Literature

Juha Ridanpää

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Geography and Literature

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In human and cultural geographies, fictive literature, novels, and poems have been used in different manners for over a century. Literature has been an object of study, a thematic context for research, a perspective through which the world is perceived, a methodological tool, and more. This relatively understudied field of geographic research, often titled “literary geography,” includes several overlapping perspectives following the main epistemological and theoretical turns in the fields of human and cultural geographies. In the early years, literature was often used to add aesthetic nuances to geographic descriptions or, slightly paradoxically, to function as a database for separating fact from fiction. Subsequently, before the 1960s and the rising interest in regionalism, literary geography was not actually geographic analysis of literature but rather a helping hand in descriptive geographic portrayals. Regionalist, humanist, and socially critical perspectives diversified the ways literature could be used in analytic terms and thereby turned literature into an object of study. Since the “cultural turn” of human geographies at the end of the 1980s, more-variable approaches have occurred, and the manner of perceiving the world through the lens of literature has become an increasingly natural and not so exceptional perspective of research. In addition, in a similar fashion to that in the early years of literary geography, quotations, excerpts, and sections from literature are constantly referred to in geographic studies to illustrate or explain the topics discussed in “other words” or—what is actually a more plausible reason—to add certain aesthetic nuances to arguments. The field of geographic studies of literature has been categorized thematically by following the development of research in human and cultural geographies in a somewhat chronological manner. This is a specifically geographic viewpoint; although there are several interesting literary studies that focus on questions related to spatiality, these studies are not included in this article.

Article.  10716 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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