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LIT 4930: Florida Lit and Culture

Class 4: Place Theories

    Cresswell (Ch 1-2)
    Dave Barry (FL)
    DUE: Post 2 group B, Response Group A

Class Objectives:

    Review and apply theories of place
    Consider Dave Barry's essay on Walt Disney World as an example of place making

Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Tim Cresswell's Place: an Introduction provides a history of the idea of "place" reaching back to Ancient Greece, and he offers a quick review of various definitions and perspectives on the idea of place through the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily through the lens of human geography and philosophy. Our job for this class is to get grounding in the idea of place and some of the terms that help define place so that we can use the idea to better understand Florida.

    To that end, I am proposing a series of questions for you to apply the ideas that Cresswell outlines in chapters 1 & 2. For continuity, you might return to the place you described in your first post and using concepts from Cresswell examine the way this place gains meaning and value.

    How does space become place? What is the difference? How does it differ from landscape (15-17)

    If place is both a thing and a way of knowing and being in the world (epistemology and ontology), how does the idea of place help you to understand the meaning of the place in Florida you described? (18)

    How does place move from chora to topos? (25-6)

    Consider Heidegger's concept of "Dasein" -- being or being there -- and "dwelling" as connecting people to place meaning (27-8). How might your place be a product of dasein or dwelling?

    Can you apply Bachelard's idea that memory is sited in place and the most vivid memories of intimate localities are "platial" (30)?

    What happens when someone or something is "out of place"? Apply the ideas of the radical human geography (41-46) to understand the politics of place.

    What if place is not a thing but more fundamentally an idea of a thing - a social construct? What evidence of this do you find in thinking about your place? (46-51)

    Theories of assemblage posit that place accrues meaning through various modes of connection and layering - building, changing, decaying - over time and place. How might these ideas explain a Florida place? (51-54)

    On page 56 Cresswell groups together all the theories and outlines three levels upon which place can be approached:

      social constructivist

    Try to categorize the ideas of place in these three levels, and bring any questions to class for discussion.

    In the conclusion of chapter two, Cresswell highlights to work of former USF professor of Anthropology Laura Ogden, Swamplife, about the Florida Everglades. as an example of how narratives and stories of place become entangled and can ultimately produce a place of indeterminacy. How does this idea sound to you?


    Next class, we begin Yglesias' The Truth About Them. Please read as fully as you can, annotating people and places. We will consider the chapter in quarters over four class periods.

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