ABSTRACT

The idea of a sense of place occupies an important position at the intersection between literary studies and human geography, figuring prominently in the conceptual vocabularies of both disciplines. However, the precise content and meaning of the term can be difficult to define, particularly when it is conflated with similar, but non-synonymous concepts, such as genius loci or “spirit of place.” In what follows, my purpose is to sift out and distinguish between the layers of meaning that have accrued in the idea of a sense of place, before going on to explore the relationship between “sense” and “place” in a more literal manner. Drawing upon recent research on sensuous geographies and cultures of sense, I will argue that senses of place (in the plural) emerge from the engagement of our five senses not only in apprehending but also in actively making places, and in making sense of the worlds in which they take place. In this regard, it is crucial to maintain a clear understanding of the irreducibly dual meaning of “sense”, which entails both perceptions and conceptions, embodied and cognitive involvements with place.