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Literary studies after the spatial turn

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This article examines three recent publications in the field of urban literary studies. It argues that spatiality has become a key term within this discipline, with the inferences of the spatial turn during the 1980s and 1990s having been firmly assimilated with the methodological procedures of textual analysis today. However, the article argues that the textual construction of the relationship between space and identity has not been fully and satisfactorily articulated within the field, with a hard-headedly materialist account of representational space sitting uncomfortably alongside a cultural materialist understanding of identity. This difficulty, it suggests, accounts for some of the theoretical dilemmas represented in the books under discussion, despite their many strengths.
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Keywords: culturalism; literary studies; materialism; representational space; spatial turn; spatiality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: York St John University

Publication date: 01 September 2016

More about this publication?
  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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