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LIT 6394: Literature of Place: Florida

Class 3: History and Place, Ybor City

GUEST LECTURER: Robert Ingalls, Professor Emeritus,
History, USF

Reading Assignment:

    Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics
    Selection from James Weldon Johnson (in course docs)
    Jose Iglesias, "The Radical Latino Island in the South," Tampa Bay History Spring 1996. (USF library journals online and course docs)
    Start Gannon's Florida: A Short History

    Recommended: Pred, Allan(1984) 'Place as Historically Contingent Process: Structuration and the Time-Geography of Becoming Places', Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 74: 2, 279-297 (avail in course docs).

    Post #2

Class Objectives:

    Dr. Ingall's lecture
    Discuss representations of Ybor city/Tampa in various writings
    Discuss the historical layering of meaning in place (Pred)

Notes and Discussion Questions:

Our main event this week will be the lecture and discussion with Dr. Robert Ingalls, Professor Emeritus of History at USF. The first of four lecturers we will have this term, Dr. Ingalls will present and discuss for about one hour. In between his lecture and the discussion, I will ask you to reflect for about five minutes and write the following things:
  • Write down one thing that surprised you or caused you to wonder.
  • Write down one thing that you don't believe or that challenges what you thought you knew and requires more information.
  • Write down a question inspired by what you learned or a direction that it leads you to think about.

    I will be recording this event for future use. This will be the format, generally speaking, that we use for the other speakers as well.


    The theme for this class is local history and the structuring of place over time. Please consider our readings today from this perspective. Some questions you might consider are:

    How does this piece of literature / essay construct place? What physical features of the place are historically contingent (i.e. change over time)? What cultural features of place are historically contingent?

    What time does the piece evoke? How do you know?

    What aspects of that time continue to shape the place? Or, what aspects of the represented time might/should/could continue to shape the place? What has been lost? Why and at what cost?

    With regard to Cruz's play and the excerpt from Johnson's novel, how important is "place" to the work?

    Please note that Johnson's novel Autobiography of an Ex-coloured Man was published anonymously in 1912, but it is about the years of Reconstruction in the south. Also Cruz's play was written in 2003 about a cigar factory in 1929. What is the significance of representing history this way? What might the gap in time between setting and writing mean?

    How important is historical accuracy to the representation of place in these literary works? What other roles might the representation of place play?

    Choose a passage from the play that you believe is the strongest or most significant and imagine directing the scene. What does the setting look like? What props will you use to evoke the "place"? How will the characters dress?

    Choose a line or passage from Johnson's excerpt and reflect on it carefully, fully. For example: "cigar-making is one trade in which the colour line is not drawn" (429). Or, "Of course you could go in any place in the city; they wouldn't know you from white" (423), or "Between people in like stations of life there is very little difference the world over" (440).

    Please consider the ideas of Pred as they related to the questions above. We will be returning to his ideas of historical layering of place throughout the term.


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