Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies

Paul C. Adams
Steven Hoelscher
Karen E. Till
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 496
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Textures of Place
    Book Description:

    The contributors to this volume-distinguished scholars from geography, art history, philosophy, anthropology, and American and English literature-investigate the ways in which place is embedded in everyday experience, its crucial role in the formation of group and individual identity, and its ability to reflect and reinforce power relations. Contributors: Anne Buttimer, Edward S. Casey, Denis Cosgrove, Tim Cresswell, Michael Curry, Dydia DeLyser, James S. Duncan, Nancy G. Duncan, J. Nicholas Entrikin, William Howarth, John Paul Jones III, David Ley, David Lowenthal, Karal Ann Marling, Patrick McGreevy, Kenneth R. Olwig, Marijane Osborn, Gillian R. Overing, Edward Relph, Miles Richardson, Robert D. Sack, Jonathan M. Smith, Yi-Fu Tuan, April R. Veness, Wilbur Zelinsky._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9256-9
    Subjects: Population Studies

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xi)
  4. PLACE IN CONTEXT Rethinking Humanist Geographies
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)
    Paul C. Adams, Steven Hoelscher and Karen E. Till

    A name etched in the smooth, black stone of a war memorial, a crowd of peasants captured in oil paint, a ghost town arrested intentionally in its decay, the planet we call home seen from the vantage point of space—these are a few of the infinite textures of place. What is compelling about these images is less what we see than our cross-sensory resonance with them: we nearly hear the muffled conversations in Brueghel’s village square; we can almost feel the earth cool and round in our hand. Imagination makes other connections as well. Any or all of the...


    • INTRODUCTION Landscapes of Dominance and Affection
      (pp. 3-7)
      David Ley

      How to circumscribe the encyclopedic? How to contain the ocean of geographic imagination? These are the challenges that confront the writer foolish enough to arm wrestle with Yi-Fu Tuan’s expansive mind and seek to submit it to some rules of convention and precedent. One solution, perhaps, is the solution of all travelers who engage complexity and difference: to domesticate the wild by imposing upon it personal experiences. Of course, as David Lowenthal reminds us, such a trope does not escape one of Tuan’s own metaphors—that of the appropriation and domestication of nature.¹ But domestication need not require a hostile...

    • FANTASIES IN DARK PLACES The Cultural Geography of the American Movie Palace
      (pp. 8-23)
      Karal Ann Marling

      America’s Main Streets once marched along in serviceable blocks of barbershops, city halls, and cafés. The bank. The coal dealer. The dress shop and the gift shop. But in among the prosaic storefronts with their twin panes of plate glass and their modest gilt letters lurked something fantastic and wonderful, a gaudy adjective in a sentence full of workaday nouns and verbs. Call it Dreamland. Or Paradise. The Bijou. Fairyland. The Crystal. A name outlined in lights. A phrase to conjure with: a rare jewel of a place, the gateway to a land of magical escape (Figure 1). Inside, there...

    • WHEN LESS IS MORE Absence and Landscape in a California Ghost Town
      (pp. 24-40)
      Dydia DeLyser

      Not long ago, a middle-aged man walked into the museum at Bodie State Historic Park in the remote high desert of eastern California and asked the woman working there, “[So] how did they decide to put a ghost town here anyway?” The woman smiled. She had heard the question many times before. She explained that gold was discovered in Bodie in 1859 but that it became a ghost town only after World War II. “No one,” she said, “puta ghost town here.”

      For this man the site could have been more conveniently located. Yet to other visitors the rough...

    • SENSE OF PLACE AS A POSITIONAL GOOD Locating Bedford in Space and Time
      (pp. 41-54)
      James S. Duncan and Nancy G. Duncan

      A quarter of a century ago, Yi-Fu Tuan coined the termtopophiliato refer to “the affective bond between people and place.”¹ He argued quite cogently that this bond varies greatly in intensity from individual to individual and that there is cross-cultural variation in its expression. Topophilia manifests itself most often in attachment to home places, places that vary in scale from the nation to the bedroom. Tuan suggests that such attachment can be based, among other things, upon memories or pride of ownership. He argues that in Europe and North America topophilia often takes the form of an aestheticization...

      (pp. 55-83)
      William Howarth

      Defining literature asimagined territoryis an old habit among academic critics. Early mimetic theories of art distinguish world from text, with text neatly smoothing the earth’s tangle, and this distinction has long elevated human status: we think, therefore we are sovereign; we are conscious and imaginative, hence the world is our oyster to pluck, to crack, to discard, to remake. Granted dominion for two millennia, that brand of humanism has produced a world with fewer oysters, crowded freeways, global warming, and critics who say “there are apparently no natural limits to the field of literary criticism.” My purpose in...

      (pp. 84-92)
      David Lowenthal

      Fifteen years have not dimmed my delight in Yi-Fu Tuan’s most enigmatically persuasive book.¹ Reviewing his topoi — gardens, domestic animals, domestic servants, zoos, dwarves, castrati, comedians, bonsai, fountains — recalls the critters frivolously categorized in Borges’s Chinese encyclopedia,The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge: “(a) those that belong to the emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair...

      (pp. 93-118)
      Kenneth R. Olwig

      The notion of place that emerges in the above quotation is one in which the meaning of place is, to use Tuan’s term, “tensive.”¹ There is a certaintensionin the usage of the concept of place. On the one hand, it can be reduced to mere location and subsumed under the “geographer’s” concept of space. On the other hand, it is not as insubstantial as location because it is also a special ensemble, with a history and meaning, incarnating the experiences and aspirations of a people.

      Place is not simply a locus in space for Tuan; it constitutes a...


    • INTRODUCTION Segmented Worlds and Selves
      (pp. 121-128)
      John Paul Jones III

      The relationships between “worlds” and “selves” — and their equivalents, places and peoples, spaces and identities — are central in human geography, in all its historical, substantive, theoretical, and methodological diversity.¹ Reflecting broadly on the theoretical issues surrounding these terms brings forth a set of interconnected questions: How have worlds and selves been defined in human geography? How have they been theorized in relation to one another? And, more subtly, how should we conjoin these terms — with an “and,” with a dash, with a slash? — such that these relations can even be investigated? In what follows I briefly...

      (pp. 129-149)
      Wilbur Zelinsky

      And, verily, after looking into the matter, we do indeed discover thatidentityis one of a surprisingly large set of concepts we have mistakenly come to take for granted as timeless components of our familiar world. In actuality, it happens to be a relatively recent invention.

      The historical fact is thatidentityis modern in origin as both word and idea. You will not find it in the Bible, and it did not form part of Shakespeare’s capacious lexicon. TheOED’s earliest citation of the term in anything resembling its current sense is dated 1638, and its definition is...

      (pp. 150-166)
      Edward Relph

      Geographical description has been made surprisingly difficult by the confusions of postmodernity. Cultures, landscapes, and styles are being mixed up and redeposited like detritus in a terminal moraine at precisely the same time that significant doubts have arisen about the legitimacy of rational knowledge. Even if we can find concepts to describe the new blends of landscapes, it seems that there are no firm grounds for claiming that our account of them is true or more legitimate than some other account. These confusions certainly present intellectual challenges, but they also simultaneously undermine confidence in strategies for dealing with deepening problems,...

    • MAKING UP THE TRAMP Toward a Critical Geosophy
      (pp. 167-185)
      Tim Cresswell

      It is well known that visionary geographer John Kirkland Wright called for a geography of knowledge, which he called geosophy — an understanding of the way in which people knew the world.¹ Geographers, he told us, would benefit from an engagement with the knowledges of sailors, farmers, travelers, and all manner of other people. I want to take this opportunity to extend the project of geosophy and examine how some ways of knowing have had particularly powerful effects on the objects of knowledge. In this essay I apply my own thoughts on a geography of knowledge to the definition of...

      (pp. 186-206)
      Paul C. Adams

      This quote about walking gestures toward a vanishing experience and also, less obviously, a vanishing sense of place. Fifty years ago John K. Wright used the termterra incognitato indicate the geographical unknown, a realm that is filled primarily by the imagination. His concept was nuanced according to various types of knowledge and scales of social organization so that despite the virtually complete mapping of the world’s gross features by the date of his comments, geographers were still faced with “an immense patchwork of miniatureterrae incognitae.”¹ By drawing attention to the unknown Wright intended to exhort geographers to...

      (pp. 207-220)
      Michael Curry

      We have heard a great deal lately about “distance learning” in higher education. And we have heard, too, about other developments occurring within the university, changes as seemingly diverse as the rise of postmodernism, the penetration of corporate money into the interstices of the institution, the focus on new technologies, and pressures for and against affirmative action.

      If these developments have occurred against the background of the idea of the university as an “ivory tower,” those who have commented on them have in fact typically failed to see that the traditional ivory tower was aplace. And they have failed...


    • INTRODUCTION Moralities and Imagination
      (pp. 223-231)
      Anne Buttimer

      Morality and imagination are commonly regarded as counterpoised: morality establishing fixed definitions and often claiming culture-specific imperatives, imagination always seeking new horizons. And what kinds of “fresh air” might geography have to offer on this domain of inquiry? The five essays in this section respond courageously to this challenge. They speak of monuments, madness, morality, and memories: a panorama of themes.

      Monuments, madness, morality, and memories are geographically interesting in that they all relate to place. All are definable in terms of being in place or out of place. Once constituted, places define what behavior may be appropriate there; some...

      (pp. 232-245)
      Robert D. Sack

      Power takes many forms. I want to explore therealand thegoodand how they are sources of power, and how geography, primarily through the instrument of place, enables us to see this and to engage in their pursuit. The central issue is therefore the relationships among geography, the real, and the good. Understanding these connections provides the foundation for a geographical theory of morality that draws upon Yi-Fu Tuan’s work. Let us begin with geography.

      Geography has two levels of meaning. At one level, it concerns our role as geographical agents transforming the world and making it into...

    • ATTENDING TO THE VOID Geography and Madness
      (pp. 246-256)
      Patrick McGreevy

      My purpose in this essay is to pose some fundamental questions about how geographers understand places. Since these questions presented themselves to me in the context of two related personal experiences, I will take these experiences as my points of departure.

      The first experience came upon me gradually. I began to notice that when I looked at the face of, say, a middle-aged person, I could not help but imagine that same face in youth, childhood, and old age. At any particular moment, a face seemed unstable, part of a process of growth and decay. It was as if my...

    • THE GIFT OF PRESENCE The Act of Leaving Artifacts at Shrines, Memorials, and Other Tragedies
      (pp. 257-272)
      Miles Richardson

      At Christian shrines in Catholic countries in Europe and Latin America, pilgrims come to leave objects. Called in Spanish America at some locationsmilagritos, little miracles, the objects portray the body part that the pilgrim is thanking the shrine figure for curing. So along the walls or in cabinets hang tiny hearts, lungs, arms, and legs. But there are other objects as well. Photographs, letters, paintings, crutches, and even a mannequin’s head all express gratitude for the assistance received. Placing objects at holy places no doubt extends back centuries and perhaps serves as a model for other, more recent practices...

    • REIMAGINING NATIONAL IDENTITY “Chapters of Life” at the German Historical Museum in Berlin
      (pp. 273-299)
      Karen E. Till

      Germany recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet many former East German citizens, known asOssis, felt little reason to celebrate in 1999: unemployment rates were high, feelings of foreignness remain, and official recognition of the role of East German citizens in creating a new Germany was minimal. Although the physical barrier dividing the two Germanys was quickly dismantled in 1989,die Mauer im Kopf(the Wall in one’s mind) stands solidly in place at the turn of the new millennium.

      One way to understand the psychological barriers between former East and West Germans...

      (pp. 300-316)
      Jonathan M. Smith

      Francis Parkman formed his intention to write a history of France and England in North America in 1841, when he was eighteen years old. He released the last of the nine volumes in 1892, one year before his death, and in so doing completed one of the more prodigious and engrossing works of nineteenth-century American historiography and literature. The theme had obvious appeal for Parkman, who in 1878 recalled that it had promised to reconcile and draw upon the two consuming passions of his youth, “books and the woods.” This promise was in large part fulfilled, as he was able...


    • INTRODUCTION Cosmos versus Hearth
      (pp. 319-325)
      Yi-Fu Tuan

      “Cosmos” and “hearth” stand for two scales as well as for two sets of values. Hearth is local, cozy, familiar, nurturing — and all these words imply a small, circumscribed place, accessible to the sort of direct experience in which all the senses are engaged. Cosmos, by contrast, implies the large, the abstract, and the impersonal, accessible only to mediated experience — to the eye, possibly, to the mind’s eye, essentially.

      These two terms (hearth and cosmos) correspond to our dual nature, to the fact that we are both body and mind. The body requires, yearns for, the nurturing intimacy...

    • GEOGRAPHY’S COSMOS The Dream and the Whole Round Earth
      (pp. 326-339)
      Denis Cosgrove

      Cosmos has been a recurrent theme in Yi-Fu Tuan’s writings. Already inThe Hydrological Cycle and the Wisdom of God, Tuan’s first book, he dealt with a historical turning point in the transformation of premodern European cosmography and sacred geography, when theologically generated questions concerning the relative areas of land and water on the globe generated the secular and “natural” theory of the hydrological cycle, while inTopophiliahe devoted a significant discussion to the comparative summary of cosmological schemes among literate and nonliterate cultures in different parts of the world.¹ Elsewhere, I show how Western cosmographic thinking has sought...

    • BONE-CRONES HAVE NO HEARTH Some Women in the Medieval Wilderness
      (pp. 340-354)
      Marijane Osborn and Gillian R. Overing

      As medievalists interested in the power and presence of the past, we have been drawn to the places of the texts and cultures that we study. As a result, we have taken — and written about — many journeys to Scandinavia and Iceland and have developed an understanding and appreciation of place that has been greatly enhanced by our contact with the field of humanist geography. The expansive perspectives offered by scholars in this field have profoundly influenced how we imagine the places of the past and have added a new dimension to our work as literary scholars in the...

    • BUT IT’S (NOT) SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE HOME Constructing the Cosmopolitan Hearth
      (pp. 355-374)
      April R. Veness

      Normative definitions of home have long been used to construct and legitimize geographies of inclusion and exclusion. Statements indicating thattheseare the habitats rightfully called home, orthoseare the habits appropriately practiced at home, not only set social and spatial boundaries but send strong messages. People who unwillingly or unwittingly find themselves “un-homed,” because their physical and/or emotional worlds break social convention, have few options. They can defy convention, as many homeless people do when they declare that their cardboard encampments, abandoned cars, or carved-out spaces below city streets are home.¹ They can alter their appearance, attitude, or...

    • CONVERSING DIVERSITY Provincial Cosmopolitanism and America’s Multicultural Heritage
      (pp. 375-402)
      Steven Hoelscher

      When Sheldon Hackney became Chair of the National Endowment of the Humanities in 1993 he made it his first order of business to direct the agency toward a discussion of America’s increasing cultural heterogeneity.¹ The focus of ill-tempered argument, multiculturalism had ignited “an out-of-control screaming match in the public square [and] uncivil verbal assassinations.” The divide was cast frequently as one between a “traditional” and “conservative” emphasis on keeping established values of a liberal arts education (exemplified most readily perhaps by Allan Bloom’s grumpy and idiosyncratic best-seller,The Closing of the American Mind) and a “radical” and “ethnic” demand for...

    • BODY, SELF, AND LANDSCAPE A Geophilosophical Inquiry into the Place-World
      (pp. 403-425)
      Edward S. Casey

      There has been a remarkable convergence between geography and philosophy in the past two decades. It is almost as if Strabo’s opening claim in hisGeographiahad finally become justified two millennia later: “The science of Geography, which I now propose to investigate, is, I think, quite as much as any other science, a concern of the philosopher.”¹ What is new (and not in Strabo) is the growing conviction that philosophy is the concern of the geographer as well, or more exactly that philosophy and geography now need each other — especially when it comes to matters of place and...

      (pp. 426-440)
      J. Nicholas Entrikin

      The humanist tradition in geography has had many important contributors, but its principal contemporary architect has been Yi-Fu Tuan. His geographical project displays the humanist’s faith in the power of reason and habit of mind that looks for the universal in the particular. Since the publication of his now classic 1976 article, humanistic geography has taken numerous and not always consistent directions, from a hermeneutic social science to an antiscientific romanticism, but Tuan’s broadly exploratory and innovative writings form an expansive and creative center for this diverse collective enterprise.¹ He has offered insights into the ways in which language, imagination,...

    (pp. 441-446)
  10. Index
    (pp. 447-461)