Dr. Laura L. Runge
LIT 6934: Literature of Place: Florida
September 9 Class 3: Florida – Place Attachment“Borrowing from the discipline of human geography, “place” can be understood as a geographical location invested with meaning in a context of power, and most geographers link place to human meaning and experience. Place is both human product and consumption; it is also a way of being, rootedness and authenticity, as in concepts of home or “my place.” Concerns over the compression of time and space, as witnessed by global commerce, travel, and digital communications, have led geographers to conceive of place as always in process and never complete. Memory and cultural productions, such as literature, play fundamental roles in this continuing process of construction of meaning in place. While geographers have looked to literature for source material in analyzing regions, people and places, early conversations between the disciplines tend to read literature for representations of landscape or phenomenological description of regions. More recent theories of place as historical process, with layers of interactions and reiterated practices, suggest a more constitutive role for literary productions, like Oroonoko.
By attending to the ways in which a Restoration text constructs place, we foreground more than setting. Indeed, seeing “place” as always in process, literature becomes a part of the cultural production of meaning in place, and as such provides access to analyzing the power dynamics that structure space, as well as the ways of knowing and being that belong to the humans in place. Literature offers a profound and detailed interaction – between the author and the geographical location – that potentially yields enormous information about the historical process of making a place; moreover, the act of reading this literature becomes a reiterated practice that is also constitutive of place. Thus the construction of place can be understood productively on at least two levels: within the Restoration text itself and in the contemporary interpretation of the text in the classroom. In Lawrence Buell’s phenomenology of subjective place-attachment, imagining place can be equally important to attachment as being in place. People can form attachments to place based entirely on imagining, from folklore and nursery rhyme to favorite novels. The fact that the imaginer does not actually see the place “hardly lessens the intensity of such storied or imagined places to induce longing and loyalty, and in some cases even to influence national behavior and the course of world affairs.” This has obvious implications for theorizing the impact of literature of place, in that a work like Oroonoko which constructs exotic locales for an urban audience, might foster an attachment to places and peoples unseen.”
Consider the title. How is this relevant to the place of Florida constructed in these stories?
Consider the history. How do these stories reflect a flow of time and space? Do these stories evoke the familiar? How or how not? Whose Florida is represented here?
Choose one story that makes the greatest impression on you and what you learn from it about place. Consider the social and political dynamics of place in the story. How does the author convey these? What thematic or symbolic purpose might it serve?
Consider your reading of the story as a reiterated practice of place making. Even though I have assigned the story to you, your reading is a process of place making. How does the story (the collection) affect your understanding of Florida?
What social, political, ecological problems become evident to you through this reading?
David Seamon's piece ties the phenomenology of place to the idea of place attachment. Why is place attachment a particularly difficult theory for a phenomenologist to endorse or explain? What is the difference between holistic, dialectic and generative perspectives on place attachment?
He identifies six processes of place that "contribute to supporting or eroding the lived structure and dynamics of a particular place" (16).