‘Rethinking Spatial Humanities’ Research Cluster – ‘Space and Affect’ Lecture Series
Topophrenia and Social Distancing; or, Spatiality in the Time of Lockdown
Prof. Robert T. Tally Jr.
Texas State University
Monday, 22 March, 2021 at 4.00 pm (Irish time)
Online seminar on MSTeams
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to the lecture.
The emergence of the global pandemic and ongoing Coronavirus crisis—with its as “stay at home” orders, lockdowns, quarantines, curfews, closures, travel restrictions, and the now ubiquitous concept of social distancing—has fostered a profound personal awareness of space and place. In Topophrenia: Place, Narrative, and the Spatial Imagination and elsewhere, I have suggested that the experience of being lost is probably the condition under which we are most viscerally aware of space and place. The Angst-ridden disorientation, fear, and dread that comes with not knowing where we are and not knowing how to get to where we want to be: that makes us all-too-conscious of our place, or perhaps our displacement, in space. But for many today the experience of spatial limitation, of being forced to stay in one’s place or to restrict one’s movements to a specified number or type of relatively familiar, known places, carries with it a powerful sense of our spatiality and our situatedness in space, with similar levels of anxiety. The places that we find ourselves located are not at all unfamiliar, especially when we’re literally staying “at home,” but the situation is changed. Immobility breeds its own demons, and the sense of being “settled,” broadly conceived, is ominous. Yet, as Deleuze has affirmed, “the nomad is not necessarily one who moves: some voyages take place in situ.” In this presentation, I will discuss the challenges associated with the present spatial limitations, and examine the experience of space in a time of lockdown.
Robert T. Tally Jr. is the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English at Texas State University. His books include Topophrenia: Place, Narrative, and the Spatial Imagination; Fredric Jameson: The Project of Dialectical Criticism; Poe and the Subversion of American Literature; Utopia in the Age of Globalization; Spatiality; and, as editor, Spatial Literary Studies; Teaching Space, Place, and Literature; The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space; Literary Cartographies; and Geocritical Explorations. Tally is also the editor of the Palgrave Macmillan book series Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies. For more information see http://www.roberttally.com/