"The Stratified Record upon Which We Set Our Feet" : The Spatial Turn and the Multilayering of History, Geography, and Geology

Mitchell, Peta (2011) "The Stratified Record upon Which We Set Our Feet" : The Spatial Turn and the Multilayering of History, Geography, and Geology. In Dear, Michael, Ketchum, Jim, Luria, Sarah, & Richardson, Doug (Eds.) GeoHumanities : Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place. Routledge, New York, pp. 71-83.

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Abstract

In Thomas Mann’s tetralogy of the 1930s and 1940s, Joseph and His Brothers, the narrator declares history is not only “that which has happened and that which goes on happening in time,” but it is also “the stratified record upon which we set our feet, the ground beneath us.” By opening up history to its spatial, geographical, and geological dimensions Mann both predicts and encapsulates the twentieth-century’s “spatial turn,” a critical shift that divested geography of its largely passive role as history’s “stage” and brought to the fore intersections between the humanities and the earth sciences.

In this paper, I draw out the relationships between history, narrative, geography, and geology revealed by this spatial turn and the questions these pose for thinking about the disciplinary relationship between geography and the humanities. As Mann’s statement exemplifies, the spatial turn itself has often been captured most strikingly in fiction, and I would argue nowhere more so than in Graham Swift’s Waterland (1983) and Anne Michaels’s Fugitive Pieces (1996), both of which present space, place, and landscape as having a palpable influence on history and memory. The geographical/geological line that runs through both Waterland and Fugitive Pieces continues through Tim Robinson’s non-fictional, two-volume “topographical” history Stones of Aran. Robinson’s Stones of Aran—which is not history, not geography, and not literature, and yet is all three—constructs an imaginative geography that renders inseparable geography, geology, history, memory, and the act of writing.

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ID Code: 69221
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: Classified as B1 for 2012 HERDC
Keywords: Spatial theory, Geography, Metaphor, Literary studies, Spatial turn
ISBN: 9780415589802
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Social and Cultural Geography (160403)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SPECIFIC FIELDS (220200) > History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science) (220206)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SPECIFIC FIELDS (220200) > History and Philosophy of the Humanities (220207)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Please consult the author
Deposited On: 27 Mar 2014 00:31
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2016 16:11

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