Writing the edgelands

Updates: bits and pieces about the day which have emerged include an account from Jenn Ashworth and several presentations. In May/June David co-convened three events around the theme of sensing place.

On 8 April my old mucker the Higher Education Academy held a seminar on landscape writing at MMU Cheshire:

The profound significance of the literature of space, place and landscape in 21st century literary culture has been reflected in the development of a diverse range of related modules and courses…some focus exclusively on contemporary landscape writing whilst others draw upon the recent resurgence of interest in literary geographies to revisit canonical and marginal texts from the literary past.

Organised by digital humanist David Cooper (Twitter), formerly of Cumbria and Mapping the Lakes fame (see my post on spatialhums), the event explored four key areas – ‘literary fieldwork’ and the ‘thin membrane’ between critical and creative landscape writing (presos: Eleanor Rees), the exploratory use of digital technologies (preso: Gary Priestnall) on geospatial technologies and digital landscapes) and the possibilities of working with, and learning from, non-HEI partners. It also involved a short field trip.

David leads an undergraduate module on landscape writing at MMU which “interweaves preoccupations and practices from the fields of English Literature and Outdoor Studies”. At the event students presented on their fieldwork writing and reading the edgelands of Crewe Business Park, “the tragic heroes of landscape”. Also at MMU is the Space/Place/Culture Cluster:

The ‘spatial turn’ has opened up dynamic synergies – and occasional tensions – between the work of cultural geographers and researchers working in a range of fields across the humanities… ideas, terminology, and concepts such as space, place, scale, landscape, geography, and mapping’ now permeate interdisciplinary academic research…such tropes have become increasingly prominent within public life as evidenced, in this country, by a collective preoccupation with edgelands, psychogeography, liminal spaces, cultural cartography and so on. Moreover, the proliferation of digital geographical technologies – including Sat Navs and Google Earth – has revolutionised the practice of everyday life.

I couldn’t put it better myself! My five walks offer some nice literary fieldwork and edgelands potential.


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