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The Place of Landscape

The Place of Landscape: Concepts, Contexts, Studies

edited by Jeff Malpas
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Place of Landscape
    Book Description:

    This volume explores the conceptual "topography" of landscape: It examines the character of landscape as itself a mode of place as well as the modes of place that appear in relation to landscape.Leading scholars from a range of disciplines explore the concept of landscape, including its supposed relation to the spectatorial, its character as time-space, its relation to indigenous notions of "country," and its liminality. They examine landscape as it appears within a variety of contexts, from geography through photography and garden history to theology; and more specific studies look at the forms of landscape in medieval landscape painting, film and television, and in relation to national identity. The essays demonstrate that the study of landscape cannot be restricted to any one genre, cannot be taken as the exclusive province of any one discipline, and cannot be exhausted by any single form of analysis. What the place of landscape now evokes is itself a wide-ranging terrain encompassing issues concerning the nature of place, of human being in place, and of the structures that shape such being and are shaped by it.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29584-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Jeff Malpas

    In 1994, W. J. T. Mitchell published a groundbreaking set of essays on landscape under the titleLandscape and Power. In the preface to the second edition of the volume, published in 2002, Mitchell wrote: “If I were given a chance to retitleLandscape and Powertoday, some years after its first appearance, I would call itSpace, Place, and Landscape.”¹ The change of perspective that Mitchell records here reflects an important shift, or set of shifts, that has occurred over recent years within the various discourses in which the idea of landscape figures—shifts that also lie at the...

  4. I Concepts of Landscape

    • 1 Place and the Problem of Landscape
      (pp. 3-26)
      Jeff Malpas

      Although it seems to me mistaken to treat “landscape” as a term referring only to a particular artistic genre, it is nevertheless with a landscape painting that I want to begin—a work by the painter, John Glover, who immigrated to Tasmania from England in the 1820s. The painting isMount Wellington and Hobart Town from Kangaroo Point, painted in 1834.

      Thought for many years to have been destroyed in London during World War II, the painting seems to have acquired some significance for contemporary Tasmanians—so much so that the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery combined with the National...

    • 2 ʺLandscapeʺ as a Kind of Place-Relation
      (pp. 27-44)
      Wesley A. Kort

      Consider Ishmael. He begins, inMoby-Dick,¹ with comments on the lures of water, especially vast water. Denizens of “your insular city of the Manhattoes,” he tells us, are drawn by water from their daily places, “pent up in lath and plaster—tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks.” Why?—Water “is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.”²

      Ishmael launches his narrative this way to explain why he is drawn, especially in melancholy states, to the sea. He is also luring the reader into his tale, one that, though...

    • 3 ʺWhitefellas Have to Learn about Country, It Is Not Just Landʺ: How Landscape Becomes Country and Not an ʺImaginedʺ Place
      (pp. 45-64)
      John J. Bradley

      In 1988, while helping to make the filmBuwarrala Akarriya(Journey East)¹ with the Yanyuwa community of the south west Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory of Australia, I stood with the filmmaker and a senior landowner Annie Karrakayn. It was a hot day: the north wind whipped the sand off the salt pans and samphire heath that fringed the savannah grasslands that marched on into the east; to the north the salt and clay pans ran on until they halted at a distant fringe of green that spoke of mangroves, and although it was not visible, the mangroves...

    • 4 Landscapes as Temporalspatial Phenomena
      (pp. 65-90)
      Theodore R. Schatzki

      Landscapes are often construed essentially as spatial phenomena. Despite this, it is obvious that landscapes are spatial-temporal entities, that is, are entities that at once occur in time and occupy or define an expanse of space. The present essay goes beyond this evident truth in holding that landscapes are not justspatial-temporalphenomena, buttemporalspatialones as well. They are temporalspatial by virtue of anchoring and being drawn into something I call the timespace of human activity. The term “timespace” is deliberately chosen: it signals that the temporality and spatiality that compose activity timespace are inherently connected and also fundamentally...

    • 5 The Edge(s) of Landscape: A Study in Liminology
      (pp. 91-110)
      Edward S. Casey

      Where does a landscape begin—and where does it end? Which is to say: Where is its edge? We are tempted to think that landscapes just go on and on indefinitely—one vista giving way to another, one stretch of land blending into the next. And if this is the case, is not any attempt to determine, even to imagine, an edge, an act of human hubris? More pointedly: Does a landscape have any edge other than an arbitrary one? Think of a seascape opening up before your eager look: here, regaled before you, is one coherent and continuous vista,...

  5. II Contexts for Landscape

    • 6 Geographic Landscapes and Natural Disaster
      (pp. 113-130)
      J. Nicholas Entrikin

      As I was completing this essay, it was announced that one of the leading geographers of the twentieth century, Gilbert White, died at the age of ninety-four. White, a National Medal of Science recipient, had been a pioneer in what has been called environmental hazards research. His classic work in this area was the 1945 publication of his University of Chicago Ph.D. dissertation,Human Adjustment to Floods, in which he now famously noted that “Floods are ‘acts of God,’ but flood losses are largely acts of man.”¹ White’s work has been described as part of the University of Chicago intellectual...

    • 7 The Political Meaning of Landscape (Through the Lens of Hannah Arendtʹs The Human Condition)
      (pp. 131-150)
      Bernard Debarbieux

      If political approaches take the lion’s share in the analysis of territory and territoriality, they are proportionally less numerous in the case of landscape. Moreover, most political analyses of landscape, often inscribed within a historiographical project and cultural studies, have focused on the staging of monarchical and aristocratic power and on those landscapes that are emblematic of the national imagination.¹ On the other hand, the texts devoted to the contemporary political dimension of landscape in modern or hypermodern societies are certainly less numerous. This essay proposes an analysis of the contemporary status of landscape in European societies, which are experiencing...

    • 8 Entry and Distance: Sublimity in Landscape
      (pp. 151-164)
      Andrew Benjamin

      Stefano Bricarelli’s 1914 photographNell’alta valle della Dora Riparia, a photograph recently exhibited and which is owned by the Fondazione Torino Musei, an image therefore that is as much a historical document as an artwork, stages the concerns of landscape.¹ Moreover, the photograph recalls, intentionally or not, aspects of the sublime that occupy landscape painting from the eighteenth century. However, rather than simply accept the sublime as a given, it will be repositioned in terms of a relationship between distance and representation. Indeed, the conjecture is that as a structure of thought, the sublime, at least as it appears in...

    • 9 Reinterpreting the Picturesque in the Experience of Landscape
      (pp. 165-182)
      Isis Brook

      The picturesque is usually interpreted as an admiration of “picture-like,” and thus inauthentic, nature. The design of inauthentic landscapes and even the way we think of land as landscape is attributed to this maligned aesthetic tradition. In contrast, this chapter sets out an interpretation of the picturesque that is more in accord with the contemporary love of wildness. I briefly cover some garden history in order to contextualize the discussion and proceed by reassessing the picturesque through the eighteenth-century works of Price and Watelet. I identify six themes in their work (variety, intricacy, engagement, time, chance, and transition) and show...

    • 10 Garden, City, or Wilderness? Landscape and Destiny in the Christian Imagination
      (pp. 183-202)
      Philip Sheldrake

      Thomas Traherne, the evocative seventeenth-century English poet and religious writer, was inspired by the city of Hereford and its surrounding countryside. He delighted in ordinary landscape transfigured into a source of spiritual vision and into a gateway to heaven.

      Your enjoyment of the world is never right till every morning you awake in heaven, see yourself in your Father’s palace and look upon the skies and the earth and the air as celestial joys.¹

      The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The...

  6. III Studies in Landscape

    • 11 ʺAll foreground without distanceʺ: The Rise of Landscape in Late Medieval Painting
      (pp. 205-226)
      Reinhard Steiner

      In Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s frescoes of Good and Bad Government in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, “landscape,” understood as a genre of painting, bursts onto the scene of early modern art with a maturity that is as astonishing as it is unexpected. On the eastern wall, on which the positive consequences of good government are depicted, a vast surface area is taken up by representations of the well-ordered city and a thriving landscape. They are separated in the painting by an almost diaphanous partition, which makes city and countryside appear, not so much as alternatives, as the inseparable halves of human...

    • 12 Landscapes of Class in Contemporary Chinese Film: From Yellow Earth to Still Life
      (pp. 227-244)
      Stephanie Hemelryk Donald

      In David Frisby’s work on cityscapes of modernity, he asserts the theme of twentieth-century European sociology, that the modern is an urban phenomenon, and that the landscape of modernity is therefore a cityscape. Frisby, and most others, were looking at European and American cities for their inspiration. Now, at the end of the last century and in the present era, the development of Chinese modernity in the Reform period is the focus of the world’s attention. This is not to say that modernity has not been underway in China for at least 150 years; rather, China’s global visibility is now...

    • 13 Searching for a Place in the World: The Landscape of Fordʹs The Searchers
      (pp. 245-256)
      Ross Gibson

      Every now and then I delve into my files to puzzle over an essay by Fereydoun Hoveyda called “Sunspots,” published inCahiers du cinemain 1960.¹ Each time, I marvel at how it’s beautiful and strange, possibly meaningless, possibly brilliant. Mostly, it describes thedynamics—the sense of shifty placement—that one feels when attending the cinema. A vivid lens for scrutinizing contemporary spatiotemporal consciousness, “Sunspots” shows how cinema has defined how we know modern time, how memory and desire give qualities to every known space, and, through both space and time, how cinema has shaped our encounter with place...

    • 14 Framing the Landscape: The Anglo-Florentine View
      (pp. 257-272)
      Katie Campbell

      Between the unification of Italy in 1860 and the onset of the Second World War in 1939 an extraordinary collection of British and American Romantics settled in the hills around Florence, creating one of the most famous expatriate communities of the modern world. Few of them bothered to learn the language, fewer still had friends among the local population; what they were drawn to was anideaof Florence, an idea that was largely embodied in the landscape.

      Celebrated in Western art and literature since classical times, the landscape surrounding Florence was familiar to educated English visitors long before they...

    • 15 This Green Unpleasant Land: Landscape and Contemporary Britain
      (pp. 273-294)
      Michael Rosenthal

      Holiday brochures would lead anyone contemplating a visit to Britain to expect to find it a place of stone walls and red telephone boxes, of which practically none remains.¹ She could anticipate arriving in a country that might be “small” but which still boasted “an astounding collection of busy cities, towns rife with history, quaint villages, looming castle, cathedrals, mansions and abbeys. Add to this wild moors and mountains, stark beaches and tranquil lakes, and you’ve got a wish list a mile long already.”² Among the enticing trips on offer would be one to “Oxford, Stratford and the Cotswolds,” where...

    • 16 The Lie of the Land: Reflections on Irish Nature and Landscape
      (pp. 295-318)
      Nigel Everett

      In November 2005, Irish State Television showed a documentary,Land Is Gold, opening with a broad vista of Derreen, County Kerry. Constituting an entire, oceanic, mountain-bound bay, luxuriant with giant Himalayan rhododendrons, Antipodean ferns, and American conifers, Derreen readily recalls the aesthetics of the sublime—that sense of awed exhilaration most influentially defined by Edmund Burke. Yet the program exists to remind its viewers that this landscape, apparently so quintessentially Irish, should be regarded, beyond its geological framework, as an alien affront. Representatives of Ireland’s National Library and National University explain that Derreen was part of the landed empire acquired...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-346)
  8. Contributors
    (pp. 347-350)
  9. Index
    (pp. 351-369)