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January 14, 2011


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ENL 3230
British Literature 1616-1780


No Class -- MLK Holiday

January 17:


Reading Assignment :

    Readings on Bb, course docs:

    Tim Cresswell, Place: An Introduction chaps 1& 2

    Miles Ogborn and Charles W. J. Withers, "Travel, Trade, and Empire: Knowing Other Places, 1660-1800" in Concise Companion to the Restoration and Eigtheenth-century ed. Cynthia Wall, Blackwell, 2005, pp. 13-35.

    Vincent Virga, "Forweword" to Florida: Mapping the Sunshine State through History, Morris Book Publishing, 2011, pp. vi-x.

    Recommended: NAEL Volume C, Literary Terminology (A27-48) and Geographic Nomenclature (A49-50).


    Class Objectives:

  • To read about theories of place, about travel and mapping in the Enlightenment, and about the history of maps on Florida.

    Notes and Discussion Questions:

    1. Tim Cresswell, Place: a Short Introduction

    In this excerpt, the longest of your readings for the week, Cresswell offers you some fundamental definitions of place, space, landscape, and the like, which we will continue to use throughout the semester. The reading allows you the opportunity to think about how places are made, what places mean, how they mean different things to different people and why, and how they change over time.

    In this class, we will be exploring the idea of place from many angles, but I want to stress two in particular. I want you to become more aware of your place now, in this class, at USF, in Tampa, in Florida, in the USA and in the world. And I want you to be able to connect your sense of place now to an idea of place throughout history, beginnning with the seventeenth century in Britain. To do that we will be looking at literature as a way to construct place, and we will be exploring the places constructed by the authors we are reading. At the same time you should be aware of the ways in which the authors, their history, and their place in the seventeenth century, shapes our world today.

    Cresswell provides a neat overview of the ideas of place, place-making and place-attachment, through the following levels: description, phenonmenology and social construction. As you read, imagine how these ideas relate to your places, which you described in class on Monday. Consider a physical or topical description of place -- how would you describe your place to someone so that she could see it or draw it? Consider your way of being in place. How does your way of being change when you are in your room versus in the classroom? Consider social construction of place. How does your being the socio-cultural human that you are (e.g. white, woman, early 20s, tall, able-bodied, heterosexual, Christian) give you access to some places but not others, create a way that you are perceived in places, impact the places you choose to go. These are all questions that relate to our understanding of place, and they will help us understand our world and the world that literature constructs that much better.

    2. Miles Ogborn and Charles W. J. Withers

    This article reviews some of dramatic ways that news of world and travel around the world changed from 1660-1800. Along with these developments, writing about the world changed. These writings are things that we will be concerned about -- everything from poetry to travel narratives to maps. How does a seventeenth-century author represent the world, and how does it differ from the ways we know the world today?

    Part of the challenge in going back to the 17th C is resisting the urge to apply our standards -- moral, economic, intellectual, etc. -- to a world where such ideas would not be feasible or visible. We have to try to understand what the authors and readers of the time knew, and sometimes that means temporarily putting aside some of our basic assumptions. For example, what role did slavery play in the seventeenth-century world? This is an important question, and one that is undoubtedly difficult for us to understand given our own country's history and tragic legacy with slavery. Nonetheless, we need to see the issue of slavery as a seventeenth-century person would see it. This article helps provide some important information for understanding the world as it was then.

    As you read, make note of the significant changes that take place over the course of the Enlightenment, and raise questions about it for class.

    Also begin to evaluate representations of world as symbolic communications as well as scientific information. Consider the quotation from Cosgrove about maps: "a key form of geographical inscription, one central to acquisition and depiction of world knowledge through a rhetoric that is a powerful combination of measurement, visualization, and narration. Mapping is a creative process, designed to put the world to order through its scaled represention.... Because they serve particular and different interests, are naturalized but not natural objects, and embody human agency, maps are ideological and political documents invested with social and epistemological authority through their conventions of representation" (23).

    3. Virga

    This brief introduction is taken from a book on the history of Florida's maps, released this year. Virga's passion for maps, and his understanding of the way they represent the world of the past are useful for us in this class. I find it particularly important, given the fact that we live in this place (Florida), and often know so little of the history of it. As you read about England and Scotland and Ireland in the seventeenth century, think about what is happening in Florida at the same historical moment.

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