Welcome to Placing Literature

Setting is a vital component to any work of literature—from Charles Dickens’s London to Mark Twain’s Hannibal to Jack Kerouac’s Lowell. Putting a story in the context of a real physical location gives stories context, placing readers in a familiar locale as the story unfolds around them. More than mere coincidence, many locations around the world act as the setting in multiple works of literature—yet the stories that take place there differ wildly.

But, what are these scenes? They are places. Geographers understand places as more than a point on the earth’s surface represented on a map. A place is also a locale—or a setting where lives unfold and daily interactions happen.  In this project, we are most concerned with the sense of place, or the meanings, values and emotions attached to a space. Particularly, in this case, the meanings and values created by the author and experienced by the reader.

We started thinking about these scenes, these places. How are they constructed? What does that mean for the reader? What can the reader do with that information and experience of place? We hope that our methodology of analyzing how authors construct place and how that place shapes the stories will empower readers to engage with places—the places in the stories, as well as their own places.

So, please stay tuned.  We will be updating this blog regularly with project developments, reflections and other random ideas.  Please feel free to comment and share your ideas, we’ll need them all.

-Andrew and Katie

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