ABSTRACT

The “where” of literature has come to occupy a central place for many critics over recent years. As someone working in literary studies, especially upon early twentieth century modernism, I have been concerned for some time with what literary criticism can learn from geography and spatial theory. I first consciously used such a terminology, and the concept of “textual space” in a 1993 article on a group of modernist poets, the Imagists. 1 The article examined how these poets represented the experience of the modern city, particularly a cluster of poems concerning movement and transport in the city. This work continued with the publication of a monograph, Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism (2003) and a collection of co-edited essays, Geographies of Modernism (2005). 2 In this work I was clearly (and thankfully) not alone, for over the last decade or so interest in the textuality of space and the spatiality of texts has come to form a recognizable strategy in certain areas of literary and cultural criticism. Here I trace a brief genealogy of this interpretative strategy, highlighting some of the fundamental issues for a critical literary geography, drawing mainly upon examples from recent work in modernist studies.