Italian literary mappings: new review by Tania Rossetto


Tania Rossetto from the University of Padua reviews Piani sul mondo: le mappe nell’immaginazione letteraria (Plans on the World: Maps in the Literary Imagination), a volume edited by Italian comparatists Marina Guglielmi and Giulio Iacoli and published by Quodlibet in 2013.

We are currently experiencing a period of robust revival of literary geography and of literary cartography in particular. Piani sul mondo has somehow been stimulated by the current re-emergence of the so-called cartography of  literature (i.e. the concrete mapping of literary settings or literary phenomena). This approach was championed by Italian literary scholar Franco Moretti in the late 1990s, with his seminal book Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900, and is now embracing the digital transition in cartography while increasingly expanding internationally. In Italy, the occurrence of this phenomenon has been confirmed by the editorial enterprise of the Atlante della letteratura italiana (Atlas of Italian Literature) published by Einaudi in three volumes (2010-2012), and edited by Sergio Luzzatto and Gabriele Pedullà. Continue reading Tania’s review here.

Earlier on this year the Open Site hosted a virtual issue on Literary Geographies.

Ethnofiction: Augé’s No Fixed Abode reviewed

Layout 1Marc Augé’s book No Fixed Abode: Ethnofiction (Seagull Books, 2013) is reviewed by Dale Leorke from the University of Melbourne.

French anthropologist Marc Augé’s book No Fixed Abode follows the plight of Henri, a retired tax inspector and aspiring writer living in Paris. He has become homeless after his recent divorce left him unable to continue paying the rent for his flat. Balancing the modest income from his pension against the monthly spousal support he owes from his first failed marriage, he calculates that if he sells all of his furniture and begins sleeping in his car he will be able to get by. He watches as the antique dealers assess the financial value of each item in his flat and take them away one by one. He experiments with sleeping in his car parked in the garage at night, hoping that none of his neighbours catch a glimpse of him before he sneaks back to his almost bare apartment early in the morning. Soon the lease expires, all but his old Mercedes and most basic possessions have been auctioned off, and he no longer has a home. Henri must simultaneously adjust to his new life while attempting to maintain a façade of normalcy by keeping his condition from friends and former colleagues. He perpetually struggles to find a place to park his car (the “golden age” of streets with no parking meters are no more); he drifts from café to café to do his writing (he no longer owns a table or chair); contemplates where he will next be able to shower or use the toilet; and witnesses his savings gradually dwindle. He meets Dominique, an artist who is sympathetic to his circumstances and at first seems to offer an escape from them. But he comes to the realisation that this is a false hope and ultimately accepts the reality of his new life.

This synopsis might read like the plot of a novel or short story, or perhaps (if you are familiar with Augé’s earlier work) the opening anecdote of an ethnographic study of homelessness. In fact, it is neither of these. Augé’s book does not characterise itself as a novel, nor is this an ethnography. Rather, it is “ethnofiction”, an intermingling of the two, blending together both ethnographic research and fictional narrative. Continue reading Dale’s review here.

Further information about the book can be found here.

Peter Gratton, Speculative Realism – and links to journal articles on this theme

Society and Space board member and former co-editor Peter Gratton’s new book, Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects is now published.


Speculative realism is one of the most talked-about movements in recent Continental philosophy. It has been discussed widely amongst the younger generation of Continental philosophers seeking new philosophical approaches and promises to form the cornerstone of future debates in the field.

This book introduces the contexts out of which speculative realism has emerged and provides an overview of the major contributors and latest developments. It guides the reader through the important questions asked by realism (what can I know? what is reality?), examining philosophy’s perennial questions in new ways. The book begins with the speculative realist’s critique of ‘correlationism’, the view that we can never reach what is real beneath our language systems, our means for perception, or our finite manner of being-in-the-world. It goes on to critically review the work of the movement’s most important thinkers, including Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, and Graham Harman, but also other important writers such as Jane Bennett and Catherine Malabou whose writings delineate alternative approaches to the real. It interrogates the crucial questions these thinkers have raised and concludes with a look toward the future of speculative realism, especially as it relates to the reality of time.

The journal has published some related work on these themes, including

Graham Harman, 2010, “I am also of the opinion that materialism must be destroyedEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space 28(5) 772 – 790 [open access]

Quentin Meillassoux, 2012, “The contingency of the laws of natureEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space 30(2) 322 – 334

Yusoff K, Grosz E, Clark N, Saldanha A, Nash C, 2012, “Geopower: a panel on Elizabeth Grosz’s Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the EarthEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space 30(6) 971 – 988

There have also been some related posts on this site, including

Two reviews of Catherine Malabou’s books – Ontology of the Accident (2012), reviewed by Stacey Smith; and Changing Difference (2011), reviewed by Sarah Kuzuk.

Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter, reviewed by Noel Castree

Book Forum on Ben Woodard, On an Ungrounded Earth, reviewed by Kai Bosworth, Harlan Morehouse, Rory Rowan and Jordan Skinner

Sarah Radcliffe on Inca Sacred Space

andesSarah Radcliffe reviews Inca Sacred Space: Landscape, Site and Symbol, a volume edited by Frank Meddens, Katie Willis, Colin McEwan and Nicholas Branch (Archetype Publications, 2014).

The book results from an interdisciplinary project involving archaeologists, geographers, historians and ethno-historians, anthropologists and ethnomusicologists. A video on the project recently released by the British Museum can be viewed here.

Mapping topologies: review of Shields’ Spatial Questions

downloadIulian Barba-Lata reviews Rob Shields’ Spatial Questions: Cultural Topologies and Social Spatialisations. The book came out last year with Sage.

Aiken reviews Koelsch’s Geography and the Classical World

koelschEdwin Aiken reviews William Koelsch’s Geography and the Classical World: Unearthing Historical Geography’s Forgotten Past. The book came out at the end of 2012 as part of IB Tauris’ Historical Geography Series. Further information about the book can be found here.

Koelsch has produced a monumental study to help populate the landscape of the history of historical geography with figures from classical geography, showing just how recently the practice of classical geography was a concern for scholars; indeed Koelsch points out that the special interest only really met its demise around the turn of the twentieth century. Continue reading Aiken’s review here.

Edwin is the author of Scriptural Geography: Portraying the Holy Land (IB Tauris, 2010)


Lefebvre’s beach: Gordillo on Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment

image_miniGastón Gordillo reviews Henri Lefebvre’s newly published book Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). An interview with Lukasz Stanek, the editor of the book, is available here.

Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) was one of the most incisive, original, and prolific philosophers of the twentieth century, and his wide-ranging books profoundly redefined our understanding of space as something material, produced, embodied, and disrupted by conflict and violence. Yet, it is only in 2014 that we finally have access to his masterfulToward an Architecture of Enjoyment, his most forceful meditation on the spatial utopia he aspired to. Written in 1973 and subsequently forgotten for four decades, the book is an extraordinary exploration of the affective dimensions of space, a topic that was uncharted territory in the 1970s. Lefebvre tackled it with the creative heterodoxy that always characterized him, blending his acute spatial gaze, the critical spirit of Marxist theory, phenomenology’s bodily sensibility, and a Dionysian, Nietzschean thrust. Continue reading Gordillo’s review here.

Gastón is the author of Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction (Duke University Press, 2014) and was interviewed for the Open Site earlier this year.

Adey on Merriman: Mobility, Space and Culture

9780415593564Pete Adey reviews Peter Merriman’s book Mobilities, Space and Culture (Routledge 2012).

Other mobilities titles recently reviewed on the Open Site inlcude Kathryn Morrison and John Minnis’ Carscapes and Jensen’s Staging Mobilities.

Philosophy and Ecology at the End of the World: Morton’s Hyperobjects reviewed

hyperobjectsCara Daggett reviews Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World is a queasily vertiginous quest to synthesize the still divergent fields of quantum theory (the weirdness of small objects) and relativity (the weirdness of big objects) and insert them into philosophy and art, which he notes are far behind ontologically speaking. Morton’s wager is that for the first time, we in the Anthropocene are able to see snapshots of hyperobjects, and that these intimations more or less will force us to undergo a radical reboot of our ontological toolkit and (finally) incorporate the weirdness of physics.

Continue reading Daggett’s review here.

Harvey’s Seventeen Contradictions reviewed

harvey-seventeen-contradictionsDavid Harvey’s new book Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism is reviewed by Ståle Holgersen from Linnaeus University, Sweden. The book was published by Profile Books earlier this year.

An interview with the author and other related videos are available here.


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