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Dr. Laura L. Runge
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LIT 6934: Literature of Place: Florida

September 23 Class 5: Field Trip to Ybor City

    Finish Gannon
    “Remembering Jose Yglesias,” by Mary Jo Tutterow, Tampa Review 13 (Fall/Winter 1996): 15-23 (Canvas)
    Pred, "Place as Historically Contingent Process" (Canvas)
    DUE: Post #4

Class Objectives:

    Visit Ybor City Museum and walking tour of the city
    Conduct an urban space observation and writing focused on historical layering in place

Notes and Discussion Questions:

    In a recent polemical history called Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State T. D. Allman includes Gannon's Florida: A Short History in the bibliography of "Mythmakers and their Propagators," but the text was defended by Gary Mormino in a review of Allman published in the Tampa Bay Times. In light of Bob Ingall's definition of history as "a true story," evaluate Gannon's brief history of Florida. What if anything of value have you learned about this place? In what ways does it help you understand the structuration of power relations and the flow of material resources through time and space? What questions does it leave you with?

    In what ways does Tutterow's essay on Yglesias affect your understanding of the man? Of The Truth About Them? Of Ybor City? (Mary Jo Tutterow was a student in the first version of this class. She earned her MFA in fiction at USF in 2013.)

    In Pred's rich theoretical essay, he offers a framework through which to understand the continual process of place development through time by combining structuration theory (material continuity + dialectics of practice and structure) with the concepts of path and project from time-geography. Paths are biographies of persons through time and space, and projects result from the intersection of paths and materials. Place results from the dialectic of practice and structure happening simultaneously with the dialectic of social reproduction, biography formation and transformation of nature. Significantly, dominant institutional projects exert controlling influences over place, though the power relations can change. As the means by which knowledge is communicated, language is a controlling element of place as well.

    Given the focus on biography, which resonates so well with the fictional portrayal of Pini, can you use Pred's framework to understand the processes of place development in Ybor over the course of the narrative time?

    Pred notes that human bodies are themselves part of the transformation of nature in place, and that all path convergences are necessarily a result of previous path divergences and vice versa: "all humanly shaped landscape elements as well as all humanly made objects are not lifeless, not without biographies of their own that are part of the never-ending transformation of nature" (288). How is this like Pini realizing that his aunt Titi was once a young woman? What other elements of landscape or human objects transform in meaning when Pini offers them a biography?

    On p. 289 Pred theorizes how power relations operate to transform nature, by determining 1) which projects are permitted or not, 2) how resources are used and 3) what human projects "flourish, merely survive, fall into disrepair, or are demolished." How might this help you tell a true story of the evolution of Ybor City?



    For those of you who will be driving from USF for the field trip, we will meet at 2:45 in Cooper Hall, so that we can leave by 3:00 from the parking deck. I can carry four additional people in my car. We will need volunteers to drive additional class members to Ybor. (Please see website above for directions/distance.) If you are driving from elsewhere on your own, please let me know.
    I would like to have everyone's cell phone number before we depart so that I can maintain some sense of central operations.
    We will need to complete paperwork for permissions during the week prior to the trip.

Ybor City

    Our trip begins at 3:30 at the Ybor City Museum. We will have a tour of the museum, a casita and a garden. No pens are allowed in the museum, so please bring a pencil with your notebook. The tour should last 1.5 hours.

    There is a small gift shop next to the museum which you may want to visit. If so, please plan on spending a very short amount of time there. The museum closes at 5:00 pm and we have other things to do!!
    After the tour, we will convene and split into pairs or trios. Your assignment for the next 30 minutes is this:

      In your small groups wander in Ybor city until you have found a place that you want to observe more closely. Making sure you are safe and permitted, settle in for some observation.

      1) Vision -- observe carefully what you see. Notice the buildings, the street, the markings of history, the layers of human efforts at place making. Speak these observations to your partner. Notice the role of nature in the urban setting. Notice the architecture. Notice the structuring of space by culture. What place names or heritage signs make claims for this place? Express verbally all that you see.

      2) Hearing -- Taking turns, have one partner close his or her eyes, while safely seated or still. Observe to your partner what you hear. Focus on the sounds near. What are they? Focus on the sounds farther away? What are they? How do these sounds construct place?

      3) Smell -- taking turns, have one partner close his or her eyes. Observe what you smell. Be as detailed as possible in describing the smells. If you don't know what a smell is, use metaphors or similes to describe it.

      4) Touch -- together, with eyes open or closed depending on comfort, describe what you feel. Observe the surfaces, the ground, the furniture, the air, the heat, the moisture, etc. Describe it in detail.

      5) After you have taken time to observe using all of your senses, write about this for five to ten minutes.

    We will reconvene after 30 minutes at a predetermined location. I would like to discuss your experiences in observation. The process of observing is essential for understanding our place and our environment. It is essential for mindfulness and awareness. It is essential for science, art and writing. What did you learn from this?

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