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The Work in the World: Geographical Practice and the Written Word

MICHAEL R. CURRY
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttbpd
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  • Book Info
    The Work in the World
    Book Description:

    Distinctive for the way it views theories in geography and science as fundamentally embedded in written works, The Work in the World argues eloquently that the philosophical questions raised by theories can only be addressed within the broader context of the work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8676-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The last several years have seen an outpouring of works on the written work in science and in the academy more generally. There have been works on the rhetoric of science, on history as literature, on the sociology of the artifact, and on and on. Yet for a geographer two things are notable here. First, there has been little in the way of such works about the written work in geography. And second, there have been nogeographiesof the written work, whether geographical or otherwise.

    Both of these facts should be of concern to the geographer. But although the...

  6. Part I. The Traditional Common Sense:: The Universal Text in a Universal System

    • CHAPTER ONE Formalizing Common Sense (I): The Text as Representation
      (pp. 17-42)

      There is a commonsense way of looking at the written work, which sees the work as in the first instance devoted to the task of representing something about the world. Because representation is the central concern, the analysis of the written work focuses on the interrelationships among the work, its author, its author’s ideas, the reader, the reader’s ideas, and the world itself. This list may seem long, but in fact the image of the representing function of the written work is often quite simple. An author/researcher observes the world and forms a set of mental ideas. The mental ideas...

    • CHAPTER TWO Formalizing Common Sense (II): The Work in the System
      (pp. 43-58)

      We saw in the last chapter that the written work in geography is typically viewed as the medium through which the geographer represents the world. It is through the written work that we are exposed to a particular version of the world. But it is also through the written work that we learn something about the author/geographer.

      As we saw, the traditional image of the geographical work is suspicious of language, seeing its everyday use as fraught with difficulties. And these difficulties seem especially pronounced if we take as ideal an image where a purified language maps directly onto the...

  7. Part II. Beyond the Traditional Common Sense:: The Author, the Work, and the World Beyond

    • CHAPTER THREE Formulating the New Common Sense
      (pp. 61-84)

      In the past several years the conventional wisdom about knowledge, in geography and elsewhere, has come under a series of sustained attacks. Although these attacks seem to have focused broadly, to the extent that at times it has appeared that it is being claimed that the discipline ought simply to scrap everything and start over, at the same time they have consistently involved a dual claim about the written work. It has been asserted that substantive written works have not been what their authors claimed or believed. And it has been asserted that writingsaboutwriting have been equally inadequate,...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Beyond the New Common Sense: Toward a Geography of the Work in the World
      (pp. 85-116)

      Just as particular theoretical positions with respect to foundationalism (or relativism or essentialism) arise out of certain kinds of social situations, so do particular positions with respect to the written work. Here, of course, a great deal of interesting and useful work, especially on rhetoric and the sociology of science, has been done. But there has been something about the social situations from which that work has been written that has rendered it difficult for its authors to develop a broad understanding of the written work. I would argue that a fundamental source of that difficulty has been that its...

  8. Part III. The Work in the World

    • CHAPTER FIVE Authorship and the Construction of Authority
      (pp. 119-142)

      In a well-known article, Michel Foucault described what he termed the “author function.”¹ “The coming into being of the notion of‘author,’” he said, “constitutes the privileged moment ofindividualizationin the history of ideas, knowledge, literature, philosophy, and the sciences” (141). According to Foucault,

      The text always contains a certain number of signs referring to the author. . . . Such elements do not play the same role in discourses provided with the author-function as in those lacking it. In the latter, such “shifters” refer to the real speaker and to the spatio-temporal coordinates of the discourse....In the former, however,...

    • CHAPTER SIX The Work in the World
      (pp. 143-174)

      If we turn away from the author and to the work itself, we find that there too it is helpful to consider the ways in which the object under scrutiny is imbricated within places and sets of places. In what follows I shall look at three respects in which this is true. First, I shall consider the question of the nature of the journal and the journal article. It may seem obvious that the journal article is primarily a means of communication, but it will turn out that on the evidence provided by citation analysis, the average article does very...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Finding the Space in the Text and the Text in Space
      (pp. 175-200)

      In recent years a new group of geographers have taken up the question of the nature of space. Taking as their target the “dead” space of Newton and this time adverting to the work of Henri Lefebvre, they have argued that by looking at the process of the “production of space” we can once and for all get clear both about the nature of space and about the sources of past theoretical failures. If Lefebvre’s supporters are right that he was right, there is much reason to celebrate; what is left is a process of mopping up. But it should...

  9. CONCLUSION: Learning from the Place of the Work in the World
    (pp. 201-210)

    The conclusion drawn from an analysis of Lefebvre’sThe Production of Spaceneeds now to be expanded. We saw in this analysis that the commonsense view that he, or anyone else, ought to be able just to offer up a new theory of space, one compelling in its clarity and power, and have it accepted and applied is nothing more than a comforting image. In practice, the attempt to develop a comprehensive theory of space fails not because of the inability of the author to do it right but for the more fundamental reason that like all authors, Lefebvre is...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 211-232)
  11. Index
    (pp. 233-238)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-239)