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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Islands and the Production of Spatial Theory

Johannes Riquet • Tempere University, Finland

February 28th @ 6 P.M. in Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center

Islands have long been privileged objects of spatially oriented literary analyses, from Pierre Macherey’s Marxist reading of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island to Barney Samson’s work on islands as embodiments of liquid modernity and Elizabeth DeLoughrey’s exploration of the ‘tidalectic’ poetics of Pacific and Caribbean island texts. Responding to these critical trends, this talk will argue that islands have not only provided interesting case studies for the ‘application’ of spatial literary and cultural studies, but have themselves been at the heart of spatial theorising – from the engagement with contemporary debates about the nature of space in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels to Benoît Mandelbrot’s conceptualisation of fractal geometry through the figure of the island. Islands have also been central to Indigenous and Creole spatial poetics and philosophies; the multi-director film Vai and Karen Martinez’s visual essay Dreams in Transit are cases in point. Ultimately, then, I will not primarily address what spatial theory can teach us about islands, but what islands can teach us about space – and how the poetic and narrative presence of islands and archipelagoes in literary texts and visual culture has actively contributed to these debates by shaping and challenging our assumptions about space.

Islands as Metaphor and Method
View Spring 2022 Lecture List

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